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Plan ahead for safer journey as winter kicks in advises NZTA

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People in Northland and Auckland heading away for Queen's Birthday are being advised by the NZ Transport Agency to take extra care driving with the long weekend coinciding with the start of winter.

State highways in the region will be busier than normal as people take advantage of the last long weekend break until the end of October, says the NZTA's Regional Director for Auckland and Northland Stephen Town.

'With shorter days and more unsettled weather, it is important that people plan their journeys, allow plenty of extra time, and drive with patience to ensure they reach their destinations safety," Mr Town says.

One of the busiest routes will be the rural section of State Highway 1 north of Auckland between Puhoi and Warkworth. Mr Town says there are choices for drivers to minimise the risk of a hold-up:

  • By-pass Puhoi/Warkworth congestion by using the SH16 alternative, which can be accessed from the Northwestern Motorway through Helensville or from the Silverdale interchange on SH1 north of Auckland.
  • Pre-paying tolls at www.tollroad.govt.nz(external link) or freephone 0800 40 20 20 (the Contact Centre holiday hours are 8.30am-5pm daily)), or paying up to 5 days after a journey.

"Paying early or waiting until you're back home allows people to take full advantage of the toll road without the need to stop and face potential queues at the payment kiosks," says Mr Town.

During Queen's Birthday last year the Northern Gateway Toll Road reported 16,000 trips on the Friday and the 15,600 on the Saturday. During a normal May/June weekend, there's an average of 14, 000 Friday trips and 12,000 Saturday trips.

Mr Town says that the NZTA will work with the Police to manage traffic to help people avoid hold ups wherever possible. Roadside electronic messages will be used to advise motorists of traffic conditions ahead and direct people to alternative routes if necessary.

Work on state highway improvements will stop for the weekend unless there is an emergency, but people are advised to be alert to speed restrictions and changes to highway layouts and road markings.

"Our priority is to ensure that the highway remains safe for everyone," Mr Town says.

People planning holidays trips can get highway information from the NZ Transport Agency at www.highwayinfo.govt.nz(external link)

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