Plan ahead for a safe, enjoyable Easter holiday journey around the South Island


We want everyone to arrive safely at their destination these Easter holidays, so plan ahead and take regular breaks – that is the message from the NZ Transport Agency and the Police.

“This year Easter Monday, Anzac Day and school holidays all fall in the same week, which means it’s likely to be extra busy on our roads,” says Transport Agency Journey Manager, Peter Brown. “While we don’t have the major events of last year occurring (Warbirds over Wanaka, Ed Sheeran in Dunedin) a high volume of traffic is still expected in traditional holiday hotspots across the South Island.

“Congestion and delays are inevitable during peak times: we want to remind everyone to leave plenty of time for their journey, drive to the conditions and plan ahead before leaving home,’’ Mr Brown says.

The Transport Agency predicts traffic will be especially heavy around the South Island on Thursday 18 April and Good Friday 19 April, and then on the return journey on Sunday 28 April.

Last Easter, there were five fatal crashes and 140 reported injury crashes. These crashes resulted in seven deaths, 45 serious injuries and 155 minor injuries nationally.

Easter road deaths and crash statistics(external link)

NZ Police will have a high presence on South Island roads throughout the holiday period. District Road Policing & Operations Manager, Amelia Steel advises, “At any time on our roads, there are some simple rules that can be the difference between a safe trip or a tragic outcome. Drivers should always drive to the conditions, keep to the speed limit, always wear a seatbelt and never drive while impaired or distracted.’’

Thanks to the road crews, Otira/SH73 two lanes restored for Easter

The Transport Agency’s crews have worked hard to ensure some key routes were completed in time for Easter. This includes the Otira Gorge, SH73, which has been undergoing repairs to get back to two lanes at Starvation Point and other places, since flooding damage in November. Bridge approaches have now been reinstated at Yorkies and Goat Creek, with more work to come.

Top tips for a safer journey

  • Plan ahead for a safe, enjoyable Easter holiday with the help of NZ Transport Agency’s interactive holiday journeys map. The map shows predicted traffic flow across popular journeys over the Easter and Anzac holidays based on previous years’ travel patterns: link)
  • Look for an alternative route, or consider leaving when traffic is lighter, either early in the morning or later in the evening.
  • Because predicted peak times can change based on incidents, weather and even driver behaviour, check real time traffic information on the NZTA Journey Planner website before you set off: link)

Places to expect short delays – mainly Canterbury

Kaikōura/ SH1 Coast and Hundalees to the south

Please be aware that earthquake and cyclone repair work is ongoing on both sides of Kaikōura this year. Expect short delays in several places with one lane available and Stop/Go or traffic signal management.

Weka Pass, SH7, near Waipara, North Canterbury – delays for safety installations

  • Weka Creek Bridge – Stop/Go and 30 km/hour
    There will be work on SH7, through the Weka Pass as part of the Safe Network Programme, from Monday, 15 April for several weeks. Crews are removing concrete parapets and replacing them with safety barriers on the Weka Creek Bridge, from Monday, 15 April. This work will be completed by mid-2019.
  • Frog rock traffic light for shoulder widening
    Further up the road near Frog Rock, crews are creating a safer, wider road shoulder, with a traffic light controlling traffic through a single lane section.

Christchurch south side detours

  • Main South Road, Christchurch, between Hoskyns and Dawsons Roads, weekend detours(external link)
    There will be detours in place for northbound traffic on SH1 (Main South Road) between Hoskyns Road and Dawsons Road on 20 and 21 April 2019 (Easter Weekend).
  • Northbound traffic on SH1 will be detoured via Weedons Ross, Jones and Dawsons Road from 7.00am to 7.00pm Saturday 20 April and 7.00am to 7.00pm Sunday 21 April 2019.
  • A separate detour for cyclists and pedestrians will be in place. Southbound traffic will remain on SH1.

Plan ahead for a safe, enjoyable journey. Keep up to date with: