MPI says South Island snow recovery progressing

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The Ministry for Primary Industries says South Island farmers are coping with recent heavy snowfall.

Snow has finally stopped falling in the most affected parts of the South Island hill and high country, says Trish Burborough, MPI’s Resource Policy South Island Regions manager (based in Dunedin).

She says the worst-affected areas are parts of Otago, Canterbury and Marlborough, especially in the high country above 400 metres.

“Rural communities are helping each other in practical ways, such as helping stock gain access to feed and water.

“MPI has been working with the Rural Support Trusts (RSTs) and Federated Farmers to coordinate the response.

“A call has gone out for volunteers to help with snow raking in Otago and Canterbury – making tracks through snow drifts for stock. There’s over a metre of snow in some places, so that makes it difficult for sheep in particular to move.”

“Snow did not stop until Saturday night in many areas and the state highways opened on Sunday for vehicles with chains, so it has just become possible for bulldozers and helicopters to be brought in to make tracks and take feed to stock. In some areas snow raking is the best option and farmers are welcoming help from able people.

“RSTs, stock and station firms, banks and agribusinesses, along with Federated Farmers, have got in behind this response, which is really helping.”

“Many high country farmers have never seen this much snow. The amount of snow is similar than what we got in 1992, which was the previous big snow in Otago.”

Farmers are still assessing the situation on their property. No significant stock losses have been reported, she says.

Snow fell in the Central North Island as well, but reports indicate it was a normal winter event and is thawing quickly.

MPI will monitor the situation closely and work with local Rural Support Trusts and Federated Farmers who are initiating systems to cope with requests.

Anyone who is affected by snow and needs help should contact their local Rural Support Trust, ph 0800 787 254.

Volunteers for snow raking in Otago should call: David Mellish, Otago Rural Support Trust, ph 021 102 9890

Volunteers for snow raking in Canterbury should call: Allan Baird, Rural Support Trust, 03 308 7594 or 0274 350 141 or

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