Misery as Heavy Snow Falls Around Much of New Zealand

Snow NZ

Winter can be a hard going in NZ

If you’re considering moving to New Zealand because of the mild climate, you may like to know that snow is covering much of the country at present and gales are forecast. To add insult to injury, a fault caused thousands of homes in Wellington (the capital) to go without power this morning.

Many New Zealanders don’t have central heating (which is difficult to source and expensive to run) instead they rely on primitive heating systems for winter warmth. This includes dangerous free standing gas heaters, wood burning stoves and portable electric heaters, to warm homes that are mostly poorly insulated and damp.

Getting out and about if difficult as only a few roads are gritted, people are usually advised to stay put and not travel. Schools are closed. While the pictures may look picture postcard pretty, life in New Zealand during winter can be very hard going.

Here’s the reports from the snow desk, as told by the Twitter community

You may also be interested in
“Most People Consider Hypothermia A Symptom Of Being Cold, Rather Than An Expression Of National Identity”

There is a lovely piece of writing by Linley Boniface in the Dom Post.

It’s her account about what it’s like to suffer the winter cold in a “flimsy wooden shack” (aka house) in Wellington, New Zealand.

If you’re tempted to emigrate to New Zealand and been seduced by stories about its sub-tropical climate read on. If you already live in New Zealand you’ll know what she’s talking about and will perhaps manage a laugh through your chattering teeth:

Which settler spread the myth that New Zealand was so balmy and sub-tropical that flimsy wooden shacks would suffice?”

“Without wanting this to sound like a suggested script for recruits to the sex chatline industry, I feel an urgent need to tell you what I am wearing.

There is a coat, a scarf, a pair of fingerless gloves and a hat of such hideousness that my small son almost fell down the stairs in fright when he first saw it. There are several tops, two sets of leggings and a pair of the kind of quilted sheepskin slippers rarely seen on anyone who still possesses all their own teeth.

It is, in short, an outfit offering the level of thermal protection an Antarctic scientist might require in order to spend an afternoon dissecting a Weddell seal on an exposed ice shelf. And yet, I am wearing this not on an ice shelf, but in my home office in Wellington. Although I can’t tell you exactly how cold it is in here, my gin and tonic is only a couple of degrees away from freezing over.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, especially in my house. Having once believed I would throw myself on a landmine to protect my children from injury, I now refuse to move away from the fireplace to allow them to defrost when they return home from school. This southern hemisphere Siberia has turned me into a warmth hog.

Walking into my unbelievably chilly house after nightfall last week, I was unable to respond to my dog’s friendly greeting because I was transfixed by a mental image of an illustration I’d once seen of a caveman taking refuge from the cold by sheltering among the still-warm entrails of a freshly killed buck deer.

My dog seemed to sense my train of thought and quickly slunk away. Luckily for her, she is a small dog and her chest cavity would be of use only as a footwarmer: if she’d been a great dane, it would have been a different story.

Ask any migrants to New Zealand what bewilders them most about this country and they will immediately mention our cold homes – as well as our insane driving, our inability to laugh at ourselves and our inexplicable fondness for cheap pies containing mince presumably garnered from recycled camel genitalia.

The cold homes, though, are most baffling, because most people consider hypothermia a symptom of being cold, rather than an expression of national identity.” Read the rest here Which idiot spread the myth?

It could be worse, she could live in Tapawera, Tasman District. Read “So cold it’s warmer outside” 14 July 2010

It’s been so cold at Judith and Kim Rowe’s home that wet clothes have been freezing in the bowl of their washing machine.

“I’ve just been moving the heater in here to try and defrost everything,” Mrs Rowe said, wearing four layers of wool and still battling the after-effects of the flu.

The family have been without much heating for more than two weeks and have been battling frozen pipes, days of permafrost on sunless pathways and temperatures plunging to minus six degrees Celsius as winter settles on their valley near Tapawera, Tasman District…

“We have 1½ rooms we live in, and the rest of the time we just run really quickly from room to room, and we’ve all had the flu. The cat’s gone from on the bed to into the bed. “In the middle of the day, you’re better to just get outside, where it’s warmer…” more here

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2 thoughts on “Misery as Heavy Snow Falls Around Much of New Zealand

  1. Houses so drafty that the curtains [inside] ruffle in the breeze. So drafty that candles blow out, indoors. So drafty that heaters can not keep up. So drafty that you think that someone left the door open.
    Heaters that have been sized for houses 1/2 the size or only for the first month of winter, not the middle of winter. Then, wait til you get your electric bill.
    The only really good heat source is wood burning stoves. Fuel is fairly cheap [if you buy, cheaper yet if you know a farmer and own a chainsaw], the emissions standards are becoming more restrictive, so even though you may live in a house that has a stove in it, you may not be able to [legally] use it. I have seen houses that have stoves that are now curious living room decorations, fully functional, yet deemed too dirty to be allowed to be used. The only difference in a “legal” stove and an illegal stove is a small stop on the damper that prevents you from “choking” down the stove overnight. Why do they not allow attrition to work at reducing the older stoves?
    The “sub-tropical” myth is right. Yet you’ll still see people wearing shorts and t shirts, they must think that if they don’t admit that it is cold in NZ than this will make it so. Must be part of the “harden up” mentality, or results of heat deprivation in their youth [they don’t know what it is like to be warm, indoors].
    This place is so goofy, it boggles the mind.

  2. “So cold it’s warmer outside”

    Must be the great indoor-outdoor flow that Kiwis go on about.

    A winter trip to the warehouse / briscoes tells a story indeed – what looks like emergency heating on display in abundance – only this is the norm!!

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