The South Island is grappling with fires, floods, and a cryptosporidium outbreak in a tumultuous weather week. This chaos comes just before the anticipated busy travel period of the spring school holidays. Both Queenstown and Southland have declared states of emergency. Additionally, Queenstown’s water supply has a boil water notice in place due to the cryptosporidium outbreak.
Amid these challenges, a woman expressed her family’s uncertainty about their planned trip to Queenstown, saying the recent events make the destination less appealing.
Addressing the situation, Air New Zealand’s chief operational integrity officer, David Morgan, declared on Friday that passengers who have booked flights to or from Queenstown, Invercargill, and Dunedin between September 21 and September 28 can reschedule their travel plans. They can opt for a date before October 5 to any other Air New Zealand destination without incurring any charges. Although there’s no fee for changing destinations, passengers would need to cover any difference in fare costs. Alternatively, customers can receive a credit, valid for a year, to book later.
Previously, Air New Zealand reported Queenstown as the top destination for the school holidays, anticipating around 49,000 travellers from Auckland, Christchurch, and Wellington.
Despite the state of emergency, a spokesperson from Destination Queenstown confirmed that the town centre remains open. They reminded visitors to boil their drinking water and emphasised the importance of good hand hygiene.
NZ Ski announced the closure of Coronet Peak for the season because of heavy rainfall. Initially, the ski field was set to remain open until October 1. Additionally, The Remarkables ski field temporarily shut down, even with recent snowfall, to prevent people from travelling on risky roads.
Jolanda Cave, of Ngāi Tahu Tourism, shared that Dart River Adventures in Glenorchy had been temporarily inaccessible but expected road access to be restored soon.
Queenstown Airport remained operational on Friday, with only two flights from Air New Zealand cancelled. InterCity bus services are mostly unchanged, barring the cancellation of one route between Queenstown and Milford Sound.
MetService issued a heavy rain warning for Canterbury Lakes, forecasting an additional rainfall of 70mm to 100mm until 9pm.
Travellers are urged to stay updated with the latest from airlines, council and road authorities, and to refer to available guides if their plans are disrupted.