Heading away? Top tips for a safe and stress-free summer road trip


With Aucklanders already ditching the city to hit the beach, NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi (NZTA) is encouraging people to plan ahead for their summer road trips.

This is easily done with the popular online holiday journeys traffic prediction tool  which shows predicted traffic flows over the Christmas and New Year holiday, based on previous year’s travel patterns.

Holiday journeys traffic prediction tool(external link)

Kingston Brands, Journey Manager NZTA says that this handy ‘trip hack’ is a great way for people to plan their trips and avoid the worst delays.

“If you’re heading north or south out of Auckland or Whangarei, it’s worth checking before you get on the road so that you know what to expect.

“The busiest times heading south of Auckland will start from Friday until Wednesday with the heaviest traffic between 11am and 2pm. If you’re heading north of Auckland, it will be much the same from Friday until the following Friday between 9:30am and 3pm.

“If you’re planning on heading further north from Whangarei, it’ll be busiest on Thursday and Friday between midday and 5pm.”

While NZTA will be closing down its worksites from December 22 until January 5 to minimise disruption for holiday traffic, before then, people travelling around Northland will need to be mindful of the summer maintenance programme which is still in full swing. People can expect to see:

  • Increased temporary traffic management. This may include mobile operations and stop/go traffic management.
  • Increased travel time. To get an understanding of what’s happening on the network, and for real time updates, please use our Journey Planner tool and allow extra time for your journey.
    Journey Planner(external link)

“We want to make sure everyone gets to enjoy a happy Christmas. More cars on the road, tired drivers and people driving on unfamiliar roads can all add up to make holiday driving stressful and risky. But there are simple things we can all do to stay safe.

“Plan ahead, drive sober, watch out for signs of fatigue, keep your speeds down and drive to the conditions. Everyone should check that their car is safe before heading off and think about sharing the driving on long trips” says Mr Brands.

Tips for safe driving on your summer holiday

Drive to the conditions, allow plenty of time and take regular breaks to stay alert.

  • Be patient when driving this summer so everyone can relax and enjoy the holidays together.
  • Keep a safe following distance from vehicles in front so you can stop safely.
  • Drive to the conditions - whether it's the weather, the road you're on, the time of day or the volume of traffic on the roads.
  • Take regular breaks to stay alert.
  • Allow plenty of time. You're on holiday, no need to rush. 

Vehicle safety

  • Your vehicle must be safe to drive before you set off on your summer holiday.
  • Check that the Warrant of Fitness or Certificate of Fitness is up-to-date on any vehicle you plan to drive, including rentals.
  • There are basic checks you can do yourself, including:
    • Tyres – minimum tread is 1.5mm but the more tread, the better the grip.
    • Lights – check that all lights work so your vehicle is visible in poor light.
    • Indicators – ensure all indicators work so people know which direction you are moving.
    • Windscreen and wipers – check for wear and tear so you can see the road safely.

For more information on self-checks, visit our Check your car web page.

Check your car – safety basics