Amazing images: Raw power and frozen beauty as polar blast strikes New Zealand

Snow has fallen to low levels across the Southland and Otago, with blizzard-like conditions in alpine areas.

Herald photographer George Heard was on the spot to capture the frozen beauty as snow blanketed the Central Otago region.

The polar blast saw snow falling down to sea level in Christchurch.

The bitterly cold air mass was now continuing on its northern track, bringing with it severe gales and large seas.

Snow and ice in Queenstown forced some drivers to carry chains and motorists across the Wakatipu Basin and in Wanaka were urged to watch for rockfall.

Moke Lake in Queenstown, the Crown Range Summit and Ben Nevis Range were coated in snow.

SH94 Milford Rd and SH87 between Kyeburn and Outram were both closed overnight, while in the North Island SH56 between Opiki and the Manawatū River Bridge was closed due to flooding.

But some were making the most of the fresh snow, getting out the toboggans in Arrowtown this morning, while the Remarkables had recorded 55cm of fresh snow in the past 72 hours and are on track to open all ski areas later this week.

All South Island ski fields were benefitting from the snow, but with strong winds, and with wind chill to -8C, resorts were, mostly, on hold or closed for the day.

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