Plan ahead for Easter driving in the South Island: Ed Sheeran Dunedin traffic magnet, Golden Bay and Kaikōura reminders


The NZ Transport Agency encourages all people driving around the South Island this Easter to plan ahead to stay safe and avoid delays.

The Transport Agency’s travel team has put together maps to show the expected peak Easter holiday traffic times to help drivers decide the best time to travel to avoid delays. These maps show the busiest times based on previous years’ travel patterns.

They are predictions and are subject to change based on the weather, local events (for example the Ed Sheeran concerts in Dunedin) and other factors.
“If everyone plans their travel in advance, and thinks about how they can travel outside the busiest periods it will help reduce congestion, delays and stress and that will make it a safer and more enjoyable journey for everyone,” says the Transport Agency’s Senior Journey Manager Neil Walker.

More details can be found at link).


  • The three Ed Sheeran concerts in Dunedin over Easter and Warbirds over Wanaka will swell traffic volumes on the southern highways in Otago and Canterbury.
  • People heading in and out of Golden Bay over Takaka Hill can travel in convoys 8 am to 8 pm the four days of Easter.
  • Kaikōura access via State Highway 1 is open 7.30 am to 7.30 pm. Expect delays.

Ed Sheeran Dunedin travel advice

Around one third of all Ed Sheeran concert goers has given Christchurch as an address. People should anticipate between 5-7,000 extra cars on State Highway 1 between Christchurch and Dunedin over the weekend each day.

If you are attending an Ed Sheeran concert, there are lots of public transport options available.

Queenstown Airport, Warbirds over Wanaka

Warbirds over Wanaka will be attracting people into Queenstown Lakes District while many others will be heading to Dunedin for the Ed Sheeran concerts.
Around 50,000 people attended the air show in 2016, so expect large volumes of traffic on SH1, SH79 (Geraldine to Fairlie), SH8 (Tekapo, Omarama, the Lindis Pass) SH6 (Kawarau Gorge, Cromwell, Wanaka) and the Crown Range. link) 

If you are catching a plane at Queenstown Airport, build in extra time – the Crown Range between Queenstown and Wanaka is going to be very busy as will be all roads around Queenstown.  For flight details and parking options please visit link).

Takaka/ Golden Bay Easter open each day, 8 am to 8 pm

The Takaka Hill road into Golden Bay (SH60) will be open for convoys 8am – 8pm all of Easter, Good Friday to Easter Monday inclusive.

The new weekday open hours are being extended this week (starting 26 March):  6-8 am mornings and 5-9 pm evenings.

On Thursday night (29 March) the afternoon opening will be from 3 pm through to 9 pm for Easter traffic.

Check latest update:

Picton to Christchurch travellers and Kaikōura SH1 hours

There are two routes to choose from between Picton and Christchurch: SH1 via Kaikōura (allow up to 5.5 hours) or the alternate route via Lewis Pass (allow up to 6.5 hours).

  • Two sections of SH1 on either side of Kaikōura are closed overnight (7.30pm–7.30am) due to ongoing earthquake repair work. They are (north of Kaikōura) between Mangamaunu and Clarence and (south of Kaikōura) between Peketa and the SH1/Leader Road intersection. There will be delays for people driving through Kaikōura as the earthquake repair work continues. In particular, after the recent tail of ex-tropical-cyclone Gita, the Hundalees to the south have several fresh work sites with one-way sections.
  • The alternate route via Lewis Pass and Murchison is open 24/7 – as is the Inland Road to Kaikōura via Waiau (Route 70).
  • Check Picton to Christchurch highways here: link).   
    Other areas of short delays in the South Island

State Highway 1, south of Ashburton/ Hinds, Rangitata Highway

Crews are completing summer road work 7km south of Hinds on SH1 this week. Two lanes will be available to traffic at all times but there will be temporary speed limits in place until line marking is completed on Good Friday. 

This may cause short delays on SH1 between Tilsons Road and Giddings Road, south of Hinds.

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