Unexpected spring snow hits South Canterbury - 'Global warming gone mad'

A massive dumping of spring snow hit South Canterbury today, leaving the town of Fairlie looking like a winter wonderland.

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It was an unexpected day off school for many kids in Fairlie today. Source: 1 NEWS

Spring lambs were also feeling the cold, caught out by the unexpected snow.

One Fairlie resident told 1 NEWS: "I think it’s global warming gone mad, November the 9th and look at it, it’s incredible, who would have forecast this?"

The weather made for an unexpected day off school for kids, some who were out and about on their bikes embracing the novelty.

Road snowfall warnings have been put in place for Arthur's Pass and Porters Pass (SH73).

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Westland Mayor Bruce Smith posted footage of flood waters cascading on to the road. Source: Facebook/Bruce Smith

The snow comes as NIWA says the amount of rain which fell on one West Coast glacier between 12am Wednesday and 9am today was more than Christchurch typically gets in a year.

The site of the rainfall was Ivory Glacier near Hokitika, where 652mm of rain fell during that period, outweighing Christchurch's annual average rainfall of 594mm.

NIWA meteorologist Benn Noll said the downpour was due to a phenomena called an "atmospheric river" - a long, narrow region in the atmosphere which transports most of the water vapour outside of the tropics.

Downpours in other elevated regions over the same period were also heavy, with Mt Philistine receiving 508mm, Arthur's Pass 397mm and Mt Cook 351mm.

Mr Noll said the next few weeks should see frequent high pressure systems affecting New Zealand, bringing less rain.

Temperatures are expected to run about average or slightly above average, with another very warm spell coming to eastern areas later next week.