Snow Chains Required?

Apr 4th, 2016, 08:48 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 11,488
Snow Chains Required?

As you all know, we're visiting the South Island, arriving in Queenstown May 21st and leaving Christchurch on June 2nd.

I'm about to rent a car, and I wanted to check to be sure snow chains are required. I called the rental company to ask, but it's still the middle of the night in New Zealand.

Should I add them to the rental?

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Apr 5th, 2016, 06:21 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,480
Drivers are required to carry snow chains in their car while traveling Milford Road and Arthur's Pass from May-Sept.

APEX charges $25 for snow chains for the duration of a rental - I always rent them when traveling May-Sept but have never had to use them.

My experience is that if a road is bad enough to need snow chains, it will be closed. But by law you need them in your car if traveling the roads above.
Melnq8 is offline  
Apr 5th, 2016, 06:41 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 11,488
Thanks. I emailed Apex to ask and they made it sound optional, but I went ahead and rented them just in case.

Lee Ann, hoping for decent weather and no road closures
ElendilPickle is offline  
Apr 6th, 2016, 12:11 AM
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 1,873
During your trip, you can check weather forecast on met
I mentioned this link before:

It will alert you to bad weather on your horizon.

Also check NZ Transport Agency updates. This will advise you of roadworks, closure, delays, so on. In map form:
In list form:

Generally speaking, you shouldn't encounter heavy snow at the end of May, NIWA is predicting the continuation of warmer El Niño temperatures through May, so we will probably have a mild early winter. Last winter was worse than usual. You can read about it here:

Heavy rainfall can sometimes cause slips and road closures, so it's worth checking the NZ Transport Agency update website daily.

If mornings are frosty, try to avoid driving before 10 a.m. as the roads can be slippery, especially in shady areas. (As you're from New Mexico, you're familiar with black ice.)

Melnq8 is right, roads will often close if it's bad enough to need snow chains. But not always. Sometimes, signs will be posted advising you that now chains are needed. Sometimes, signs won't go up in time and something like this might happen (note this happened in mid-July):
Diamantina is offline  
Apr 6th, 2016, 12:40 PM
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Thanks for all those links, Diamantina!

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
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