Written on Friday, 25 June 2010 by NZTravelInsider
Read about the amount of snow and fog I encountered while driving through Lindis Pass in winter on the South Island of New Zealand.
Woke up at 5:30 a.m. this morning for an early and long drive to Lindis Pass, where I was hoping on some fine weather for sunrise photography.
As mentioned in my Queenstown snow report article yesterday, it had snowed two days prior. After that, the skies have been pretty much clear. So I was expecting Lindis Pass to be buried in snow, which it was for a large part, but that there wouldn’t be any snow on the road.
In general, when it snows on mountain passes such as Lindis Pass, the road is cleared of snow and coarse sand is sprinkled on the road to reduce slipperiness. Much effort is put into keeping New Zealand’s roads open.
In addition, lots of cars tend to go through Lindis Pass in winter, so naturally the cars will also clear the snow off the road. So I was confident enough that I would not need chains – which I’m currently not carrying anyway – to go up Lindis Pass.
While it had not snowed for two days, I was however expecting the road through Lindis Pass to have ice, and potentially be slippery. And with cold and clear nights you tend to get frost, so I had to take this into account with my driving times.
I left the motel at 6:25 a.m. in complete darkness with only stars to accompany me, drove from Queenstown to Cromwell, stopped briefly in Cromwell to fill up the tank, and then continued on to Lindis Pass.
All in all, the journey from Queenstown to Lindis Pass took a little less than 2 hours to complete. However, I was bummed out as soon as I reached Cromwell, because it was foggy, so I also expected Lindis Pass to be in fog.
Sometimes fog burns off when the sun comes out, but because I was hoping to catch the early morning sun hitting the snow on Lindis Pass, I was out of luck this time around.
From the picture above you can see that the “welcome sign” that is located at the top of Lindis Pass was totally engulfed in fog. I drove onto Omarama, and then decided to turn back.
When I reached Lindis Pass on my way back, I briefly stopped in the hope that the fog would clear, because I could see clear blue skies and the sun through the fog as I looked up at the sky, but I waited in vain.
My consolation for the day was seeing the fireworks of the Queenstown Winter Festival from my motel room window (I’m staying at a motel that is close enough to Queenstown city center); I’ll publish a video of the Queenstown Winter Festival fireworks when I get back from my Queenstown June trip.
A second consolation was enjoying the sunset on distant mountain peaks all the way across Lake Wakatipu.
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