Easter hops towards us: Warbirds over Wānaka, Otago and Southland Anniversary Days


The sound of 1940s airplanes will fill the skies over Wānaka at Easter – for the first time in six years after the Covid-19 hiatus.

Warbirds over Wānaka attracted 54,000 people in 2018 for its 30th anniversary airshow. The same or more are expected this year after a six-year break.

Warbirds over Wānaka(external link)

What this means is that people will be travelling to the Queenstown Lakes District town from all over the South Island/Te Wai Pounamu so NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi encourages everyone to check their routes in advance. Some key times are likely to be much busier than others, based on previous years’ traffic counts.

Waka Kotahi Journey Planner(external link)

Mt Iron roundabout sorted, Riverbank and Ballantyne roundabout project paused for Easter

The good news is the new roundabout at Mt Iron, a key entrance to Wānaka, is now operational with traffic flowing on all of its five legs. There is just landscaping to be done after Easter.

Work at the nearby Queenstown Lakes District roundabout project at Riverbank and Ballantyne Roads will be paused for Easter, easing traffic along Riverbank Road, which also connects to the Mt Iron roundabout.

Queenstown Lakes District Council will open the intersection of Ballantyne Road and Riverbank Road as normal from midday Thursday, 28 March through to Tuesday, 5 April. During this time, the surface will be compacted gravel so maintenance crews will be on standby in case any upkeep is required. Drivers are asked to take it slow and follow all signage instructions.

Upper Clutha Safety Improvements Programme(external link)

Anniversary Days

  • Monday, 25 March is Otago Anniversary Day.
  • Tuesday, 2 April, after Easter, is Southland Anniversary Day.
  • People can expect to see plenty of local travellers and visitors around Otago and Southland between both these key dates.

Easter traffic guidance: This link will be working before Easter weekend showing you where the congestion is peaking near key holiday centres.

Easter weekend holiday journeys - Journey Planner(external link)

“Please build in extra time so you can enjoy your trip around the South Island this Easter,” says Nicole Felts, Journey Manager for NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi in Otago and Southland.

“Coffee, snack and toilet breaks will help you refresh and arrive relaxed. Share the driving if you can.”

Miss Felts encourages everyone to check their vehicle is warranted and registered and to plan for things like a flat tyre or very bad weather by checking the spare tyre and jack, the windscreen-wipers and carrying spare blankets and torches.

“Follow the speed limits and drive to the conditions. If the weather is stormy, slow down and watch your following distances. If you are towing a trailer or caravan, check behind you and be prepared to pull over at a safe spot to let others pass from time to time.”

Elsewhere in Canterbury and on the West Coast

People should strike no active traffic management sites in Canterbury and the West Coast over the four-day Easter weekend. There will be some sites where work is ongoing after Easter where speeds will be reduced and road cones will protect the work sites.

Single lane bridges – slow down

Drivers new to rural routes need to slow down when approaching bridges. Many on the West Coast are single lane with the arrows on the sign showing which direction should have primacy. Be courteous and wait.

SH75 to Akaroa

Guardrails are being installed on the road up to the Hilltop, so be ready for temporary traffic signals maintaining the single lane of highway around the work site.

South Canterbury and Ashburton

There will be daytime manual traffic control on the SH79 Upper Orari Bridge Easter Friday and Easter Monday as we expect extra traffic on those days.

Sealing at Ealing near the Rangitata Bridge should be completed before Easter on SH1, but please be aware it may be a slower than usual trip through this site.

Ashburton is also likely to be very busy particularly on Easter Friday and Monday and ongoing road work sites between Rolleston and Rangitata may create stretches of slower speed limits.