The summer holidays are upon us – be safe on our highways


People travelling around the South Island/Te Wai Pounamu this summer can get some peak time highway insights before leaving home, says Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency.

“This year may be slightly different to other summers given the larger numbers of Kiwi travellers,” says Nicole Felts, Waka Kotahi Journey Manager for Southland and Otago. “But we know that people will still travel more on particular days and at particular times. Our Hotspots maps can help keep everyone’s stress levels down.”

For example: Queenstown’s SH6 eastbound (leaving Queenstown) is likely to be busiest on New Year’s Day and 2 January, mid-morning to the afternoon. Coming towards Queenstown (westbound) the highway tends to be busiest two days out from New Year’s Eve – Wednesday, 29 December.

What the Hotspots charts look like:

Other South Island “hotspots” include Motueka, in Golden Bay, SH6 between Blenheim and Nelson, the key highways out of Christchurch, SH79 through Geraldine and SH8 east of Wanaka.

  • The Tākaka Hill road, SH60, is now open to two lanes after nearly four years single laned following Cyclone Gita.
  • The Kaikōura highway, SH1, has many safe stopping areas to the north and south with cultural and historical stories at the Pou sites.

By checking with the Holiday Journey Planner Hotspots map(external link), travellers can plan to avoid the peak congestion times or work around them, says Miss Felts.

“Everyone is tired this year, so we encourage people to be well rested before a big trip and share the driving if possible. Take plenty of breaks, stop for snacks and drinks and start your holiday on the way,” she says.

The Holiday Journey Planner tool shows predicted traffic conditions for popular routes over Christmas and New Year’s based on travel patterns from previous years.

The holiday shut-down of active work sites

To help ease holiday congestion, Waka Kotahi work sites close down ahead of the Christmas/New Year break to minimise disruption to people’s journeys and ensure crews also get a decent spell with their families and friends.

  • This year the moratorium runs from midday Thursday, 23 December, 2021 to 9 am Wednesday, 5 January, 2022. Highway contracting crews will continue to be available for emergency responses.

Simple tips for safer travel

Tresca Forrester, Waka Kotahi Journey Manager for Canterbury, the West Coast and Top of the South says people should not underestimate taking some simple actions to stay safe when they travel long distances.

“That means checking your car is safe before your journey, keeping your speed down, always driving sober, watching for the signs of fatigue and sharing the driving.

“Be patient, so everyone can relax and enjoy the holidays together. Remember, you’re on holiday, there’s no need to rush.”

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