Snow storms

Learn how to prepare for and what to do during a snow storm in New Zealand to minimise risk to you and your loved ones.

For general readiness, every household should create and practice a Household Emergency Plan and assemble and maintain Emergency Survival Items. In addition, every household should take snow-specific precautions and plan for and practice what to do if prolonged, high snowfall happens.

Action messages

  1. Determine your risk.
  2. Get your household ready.

Download our hazard app to help you make it safely through a disaster.

More information on how to prepare for and what to do if stuck in a snow storm:

Snow storms - Civil Defence (PDF)

More about snow storms

Even in small quantities, snow can be hazardous. It only takes a few centimetres on a road to make driving dangerous. In large quantities, snow can immobilise regions by disrupting communications, transport and supply lines. It can hamper the operation of emergency services, isolate communities, cause the death of large numbers of livestock, damage forests, and cause buildings to collapse under its weight.

In the depths of winter, heavy snow can lie on the ground for weeks, denying livestock the ability to graze, keeping temperatures low and increasing risks to the most vulnerable members of the community.

While the coldest winter outbreaks tend not to bring very large quantities of snow, the combination of very low air temperatures and strong winds results in extreme wind chill. Because this can occur even on sunny days, one of the dangers it poses – hypothermia – may not be all that apparent.

Strong cold winds together with rain or snow make for cold conditions inside many New Zealand houses because of poor insulation.