Smoke, ash and dust turns NZ glaciers brown


Icy white glaciers on New Zealand’s South Island have turned a concerning shade of caramel as a result of the bushfires burning in New South Wales and Victoria.

Shocking photographs and videos shared on social media over the past 48 hours show the impact of the drifting smoke on some of the country’s magnificent and usually pristine attractions.

“We can actually smell the burning here in Christchurch,” a user by the name of Miss Roho said on Twitter overnight.

She shared a video of the thick smoke up on the Tasman Glacier in Mount Cook National Park, 200 kilometres west of the South Island city.

Another woman, Rachel, posted photos of the “caramelised snow” near the iconic Franz Josef Glacier on January 1.

“It was white yesterday,” she wrote.

RELATED: Aussie bushfires turn NZ glaciers pink

In satellite notes issued on Thursday morning, the Bureau of Meteorology said “extensive smoke haze” has been seen across eastern NSW and Victoria “and extends both northwards to Queensland and also extends from the north Central Coast of NSW across the Tasman Sea”.

The stream of haze is associated with a surface trough and cold front, the Bureau said.

It’s not the first time Australia’s weather has left its mark on the glaciers in recent weeks.

In a blog post on her Young Adventuress website, Liz Carlson described the surreal sight of glaciers in the Mount Aspiring National Park in New Zealand’s Southern Alps coated “in a layer of red” dust.

“It’s not uncommon to have this occur during periods of severe drought in eastern Australia,” University of Queensland geographer Hamish McGowan told the ABC.

This time, the skies above New Zealand have turned shades of yellow, orange, grey and brown.

The impact has been widespread and felt in Dunedin, Oamaru and Kurow on the South Island, and Wellington and Auckland on the North Island.

Kiwi actor and comedian Jemaine Clement, of Flight of the Conchords fame, said on Twitter the Australian bushfire smoke in the country’s atmosphere had given them a “strange sun”.

Former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark shared an image of the smoke from New Zealand’s Weather Watch this morning.

“The main plume lies over the North Island for Thursday. A secondary plume is covering a few parts of the South Island,” the weather news authority stated.

Ms Clark said: “How one country’s tragedy has spillover effects.”

“Crazy down here, the camera does not do it justice,” dairy farmer Bruce Eade captioned his video of the thick smoke over the south of New Zealand.

Reid Parker, sharing a photo of the smoke above Dunedin on New Year’s Day, said: “If it’s like this when there’s an ocean between us, the reality in Aus must be terrifying”.

Follow our live coverage of the Australian bushfires here.



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