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Snow in the Wairarapa - 1918 and 1939

Christmas card scene in Queen Elizabeth Park, Masterton, 1918
Snow in Pine Street (now Perry Street), Masterton, 1918
Masterton Park in snow, circa 1918
People enjoying the snow at the Post Office corner in Queen Street, Masterton, 1918.


The Wairarapa experienced spectacular snowfalls  in 1918 and 1939. The 1939 snowstorm, which affected much of the country was described as the worst in New Zealand's history.

On 22 July 1918 the Evening Post reported
It has been snowing in the Wairarapa for the past thirty hours. The storm is unparalleled for severity and duration in the memory of the oldest settlers. There is over a foot of snow in the streets of Masterton, and in the back country the roads are impassable.

Telegraph and telephone communication is interrupted. Snow is still falling heavily, and it is feared there will be heavy loss of stock. The schools in Masterton were dismissed for the day. Settlers are anxious concerning the aftermath of the storm, and floods of great magnitude are regarded as certain. 
The Postmaster at Featherston reports: "Snow falling continuously here for three days. The road to Pirinoa is reported to be impassable, and the mail coach is unable to start to-day." 
The Postmaster at Masterton" states: "Exceptional fall of snow during past 24 hours, heaviest on record. Country, and town covered depth 6 inches to 1 foot. Still snowing. Mail and rural services interrupted. Private telephone wires disorganised. Main telegraph and train services maintained."

Greytown Hospital, East Street, in the snow, 1918

Foster Wellington in Perry Street, Masterton, 1918

Snow in Carterton,  15 July 1918, looking from the north.  On the right is the intersection with Broadway and the Post Office tower can be seen further down the street on the left-hand side.


Masterton Hospital in snow, 27 July 1939

Chapel and Cole Streets in Masterton covered in snow, 1939.  The Wairarapa Times-Age building is in the centre of the photograph.

Photos: Wairarapa Archive and Alexander Turnbull Library

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