Hot weather across South Island affecting road surfaces, expect more roadwork sites


With temperatures across the country much warmer than usual for this time of year, road surface temperatures are likely to be higher than 50°C today through Monday, 11 December, next week, says the NZ Transport Agency.

“The summer roadworks season is in full swing across the South Island State Highway roads,” says Transport Agency Journey Manager Lee Wright. ”Our contractors are working hard maintaining and keeping the roads safe with the busy summer holiday ahead, with as little disruption as possible. But people should expect some delays and this hot weather may add to that.

“With the recent arrival of the hot temperatures, some roads are showing signs of ‘bleeding seal’ or sticky surfaces. This happens where the bitumen melts and rises above the chip seal road surface.

“Drivers may see our roadworks teams out and about laying more small chip over the top of the affected surfaces, to help absorb the bitumen, and possibly water trucks spraying water on the roads.”

Ms Wright advised everyone to drive with care and patience, slow down if they see a sticky black road surface ahead and follow posted slower speed signs.

“A newly surfaced road may take a little longer to settle in the very hot weather and people may encounter loose road chip and see bitumen tracking along the road. It is important to slow down at these sites and follow any temporary speed advisory signs.  Too fast and you risk flicking sticky stone chips and damaging your vehicle as well as the newly surfaced road.  The new road surface will settle within a few days and any minor tracking of bitumen will soon wear off with traffic.”

How do I clean it off?

Ms Wright says that if drivers do see spots of bitumen on their cars, these can be cleaned off with kerosene or baby oil.

No activity can still require slower speeds

“At times you might see a work site with restricted speed limits where there does not appear to be any activity. This can be where the roadworks team has addressed the issue and loose gravel has been applied to the bleeding seal, which is still being bedded in. Slower speed reduces additional damage to the road surface and also helps reduce the chance of bitumen and gravel flicking up and damaging your vehicle’s paintwork. We appreciate everyone slowing down on these sites.”

Tips for driving on newly sealed or temperature-affected surfaces:

  • Slow down before you reach the newly sealed surface
  • Leave space between the vehicle in front of you
  • Avoid braking
  • Remember 30km/hour is OK on a newly sealed surface
  • Drive too fast and you’ll send chips flying, break other users windscreens and damage the road surface
  • Drive too slow and the road surface sticks to you.

For more information, watch our video below:

Ways to find out what is happening on the highway network: