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How to get your Wellington Anniversary Weekend traffic fix

If you’re one of those people who get their kicks from sitting in holiday traffic queues, then make sure you get your fix this Wellington Anniversary Weekend.

The NZ Transport Agency is advising motorists that if you choose to leave Wellington during Friday’s peak period of 3pm-to 7pm, or if you come back mid-late afternoon on Monday, you’re more than likely to find yourself in one of the Capital’s beloved long weekend traffic jams.

Of course, the reality is that most people in traffic jams would rather be anywhere else, but may not have a choice about travelling during the busiest times due to commitments such as work. 

That’s where motorists who do have the flexibility to travel earlier can lend a helping hand, by spreading out traffic flow so the exodus doesn’t all happen at once.

Regional Performance Manager Mark Owen says the best way to dodge the delays is to leave early today – that is, before 3pm, or first thing Saturday morning. For the trip back on Monday, packing up your tent or your bach early will help you avoid  the queues that tend to build north of Otaki mid-afternoon.   

You can keep an eye on the @nztawgtn Twitter feed or www.nzta.govt.nz(external link) for real time updates, and any news about incidents such as crashes or road closures.

'We appreciate that not everyone will be able to leave early on Friday because of work commitments, but those who can will get a far smoother, quicker journey.  Packing up early on Monday and heading back before early-afternoon is also a great way to beat the queues that tend to form north of the Otaki Roundabout in the afternoon'

Mr Owen says the passing lanes on the Kapiti Coast will be closed during the busiest times. This includes the northbound passing lane at the Raumati Straights worksite.

'When the roads are jam packed, we close the passing lanes to prevent queue jumping and the bottleneck created by the merge.'

Roadworks will also be put on hold in the Wellington region, except emergency works.

The good news is that holiday traffic queues on State Highway 1 north of Wellington will soon largely be a thing of the past.   In just a few years, there will be at least two lanes in each direction all the way to the north of Otaki, thanks to the Wellington Northern Corridor, which includes the Kapiti Expressway and Transmission Gully, now under construction.  

Mr Owen says the Transport Agency is hoping Wellington Anniversary Weekend will be a tragedy-free weekend, and is asking motorists to put safety first.

'We appreciate how keen everyone is to put their feet up at the bach or the campground, but please take it easy, and be patient and courteous. Being in a hurry can result in bad decisions, and that can result in death or serious injury.

'We’re asking drivers to ease up on the accelerator, give other drivers plenty of space, take regular breaks, and if the weather packs it in, change your driving to suit the conditions.

'If you plan ahead and leave some time up your sleeve, you’ll enjoy a safer, more stress-free holiday.'

Tips to pass the time in holiday traffic:

  • Transform State Highway 1 into a musical memory lane. Bop along to Bowie, mosh to Motorhead, or introduce your kids to the Eagles while you sing along (make sure you employ the kiddie locks).
  • Play I Spy.  Charades is a bad idea, especially if you’re driving.
  • Stump the kids by repeatedly asking them if we’re there yet
  • Cultivate a deep, unspoken bond with the car in front of you. Try not to make eye contact – it gets weird.
  • Turn around and go back to Wellington. It’s the best city in the world, the T20 cricket is in town, and the forecast is decent.  Why would you want to leave?
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