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Busy end to April's long holiday on country's highways

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State highways across New Zealand will be extremely busy this Sunday (27 April) as holidaymakers return home after the 10-day Easter/ANZAC Day break, and the NZ Transport Agency is urging drivers to be patient as congestion and delays can be expected.

Traffic volumes will be heaviest at traditional holiday weekend congestion locations - State Highway 1 (SH1) heading in Auckland from the north and south, around SHs 1 and 2 near Coromandel and in northern Waikato, and heading south on SH1 to Wellington.

“People have had the opportunity of an unusual break before the onset of winter - back-to-back long weekends combined with the school holidays means there will be a huge increase in traffic  on the roads,” says the Transport Agency’s National Journey Manager Kathryn Musgrave. 

“Congestion will be heaviest between mid-morning and late-afternoon – that’s the time of day to avoid if you can to reduce the risk of being caught in a long queue of slow moving traffic and having the children in the back seat getting restless and bored.”

The Transport Agency is urging drivers to consider all of their options to help reduce delays. 

Even before the start of their journey, there are several on-line choices for people.  General highway conditions are available at  www.nzta.govt.nz/traffic/current-conditions(external link) or  www.highwayinfo.govt.nz(external link) (Freephone 0800 4HIGHWAYS),  or they can plan a specific route at www.onthemove.govt.nz(external link)

Roadside, electronic signs at key locations will keep drivers informed of conditions ahead. 

In Auckland, rural SH16 between Wellsford and the city is a less congested alternative to SH1 through the Dome Valley and Warkworth.

People using the Northern Gateway Toll Road can avoid unnecessary delays and the need to stop to pay at the kiosks by pre-paying for trips on-line at www.tollroad.govt.nz(external link) 

In Waikato/Bay of Plenty, delays are likely during peak travel times at Rangiriri north of Huntly because of the construction of a new section of the Waikato Expressway. All roads leading to and from the Coromandel SH2/SH25 turnoff and SH25 will also be busy.

In Wellington, the Transport Agency will close SH1 passing lanes around Otaki.

“The closures help keep traffic flowing and prevent holds ups that can occur when traffic merges again into a single lane,” Mrs Musgrave says.

The Transport Agency is also supporting the Police campaign to keep roads safe by targeting speeding drivers who put others at risk. 

“More traffic on our roads increases the risk of a crash,” Mrs Musgrave says. “Whatever the cause of a crash, the speed at impact determines how badly people are injured and there should be no tolerance for speeding when we know that the outcome can be tragic for those involved.” 

Mrs Musgrave says there are actions drivers can also take to help keep them and their families safe:-

  • Ensure everyone wears a seatbelt
  • Stow everything in a vehicle securely
  • Plan journeys: avoid peak times, allow plenty of time, stop for breaks
  • Avoid speed and alcohol
  • Be courteous, be patient and give others plenty of space

“People will be sharing the roads with a lot of traffic – cars, trucks, people towing caravans and boats, motorcyclists and cyclists. 

“Planning your trip before leaving, being prepared - especially for changeable weather at this time of year - and patience while driving are keys for a safe trip home on very busy roads this Sunday,” Mrs Musgrave says.

For more information please contact:

Ewart Barnsley
Auckland/Northland Media Manager
NZ Transport Agency

T: 09 928 8720
M: 027 213 7616
E: ewart.barnsley@nzta.govt.nz

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