Mackenzie Country Hoarfrost

Mackenzie Country Hoarfrost

A drive through Mackenzie Country, Canterbury, in winter offers gorgeous views of golden tussock grass backed by snow-capped mountains. It is also a relatively reliable place for seeing hoarfrost. The term “hoarfrost” comes from an old English adjective “hoary”, meaning grey or white in appearance.

Hoarfrost is a relatively rare form of frost, requiring an extended period of time for moist air to interact with sub-zero surfaces. In the right conditions, the ice builds up and forms various structures as it grows, including fingers and feathers. Generally, hoarfrost requires cold foggy conditions over several days to get good ice coverage. These conditions are quite common in the Mackenzie in winter. If possible, it is best to view as the fog lifts, allowing some sunlight through.

In the event of a hoarfrost, the roads along Pukaki and Ohau Canals are especially scenic.

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