With Wellington Anniversary Weekend coming up, and other events in and around the wider Wellington region throughout January and February, the NZ Transport Agency is reminding motorists to plan ahead and avoid traditional peak travel times if possible.
Transport Agency Regional Performance Manager Mark Owen says drivers leaving Wellington during Friday’s peak period, or returning home on Monday afternoon are likely to be delayed by heavy congestion.
'There are still a lot of people on holiday, so we are expecting increased numbers returning to Wellington after the long weekend. Packing up the tent or leaving the bach early on Monday and heading back before early afternoon is a great way to beat the queues that tend to form north of the Otaki Roundabout in the afternoon,' Mr Owen says.
Mr Owen says on Wellington Anniversary Day, Monday 23 January, the Otaki passing lanes will be closed and only reopened once traffic starts to flow freely.
'When the roads are jam packed, we close the passing lanes to prevent queue jumping. In heavy traffic the merging at the end of the passing lane slows everyone down even more, so closing the passing lane temporarily actually helps to keep things moving.'
To help drivers plan ahead to avoid the queues, the Transport Agency crunched data from Wellington Anniversary Weekends to show the busiest times based on previous years’ travel patterns.
As the weather can also have an impact on road conditions and journey times, it is also advisable to check the weather forecast as part of your travel planning.
Except for emergency works, road works will be put on hold in the Wellington region over the Wellington Anniversary Weekend.
Mr Owen says the Transport Agency is urging everyone to put safety first to prevent needless tragedies on the road over the long weekend.
'People often think about their holiday starting when they reach their destination. By taking the mindset that your holiday starts from when you leave home, people are more likely to 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.'
As well as the upcoming long weekend for Wellington Anniversary, increased traffic volumes are expected throughout January and February as families return for the start of the school year on Monday 30 January, and people travel over long weekend for Waitangi Day on Monday 6 February. State highways across the wider Wellington region and lower North Island are expected to be busy with events such as the Shiny Side Up Bike Fest, Paraparaumu on Sunday 29 January, the Martinborough Fair on Saturday 4 February, Wings over Wairarapa on 17-19 February and the Ohakea Air Show the following weekend, on 25 and 26 February.
'All of these events add to the vibrancy of our region, but it also can mean a lot of people all heading to the same place at the same time. When you are heading to a popular event, do factor in that your journey make take longer than usual. Patience and courtesy can go a long way in making everyone’s journey safer and more enjoyable,' Mr Owen says.
To help plan ahead for travel, and for real time updates on traffic conditions, crashes or road closures, you can: