What to expect on Wellington highways this Labour weekend


Roads in the Wellington region will be busy this Labour weekend and the NZ Transport Agency will be working with the Police to keep traffic moving and keep motorists safe on their travels during the holiday break.

"We’re asking motorists to expect heavy traffic, both getting out on Friday afternoon and returning on Monday," says Regional Performance Manager Mark Owen. "Patience is the key. Avoid the frustration factor by planning your journey, giving yourself some extra time and taking regular breaks."

Last year at Labour Weekend, there was 1 fatal crash and 83 reported injuries.

”Excessive speed has been a contributing factor in too many of those crashes,” Mr Owen says.

"Get your car, truck, camper van or motorcycle checked before heading off. If this windy weather carries on, then take extra care if you’re using a high sided vehicle like a campervan, or if you’re on a motorbike or bicycle. And when the rain comes down, please take extra care on corners and watch your speeds and following distances, because wet roads mean less control.”

He urges motorists to make sure they have had a decent night’s sleep and that they feel ready and alert to drive.

Closing the passing lanes to keep traffic moving

During peak travel times, the Transport Agency will be closing the SH1 northbound passing lanes, north of Te Horo, as well as the southbound passing lane north of Otaki. The lanes will be closed at the following times (depending on traffic flows):

  • Northbound passing lane—Closed from 10am to mid-late evening on Friday 24 October and Saturday 25 October
  • Southbound passing lane—Closed from 10am Monday 27 October and reopening at approximately 8.00pm that evening.

The Transport Agency will also be monitoring congestion through Otaki. If things get too backed up, further temporary traffic management measures will be put in place to improve traffic flows here.

Mr Owen says people often ask why passing lanes are closed during holiday weekends.

"Passing lanes only work when traffic is flowing freely. When the roads clog up during the holiday rush, some cheeky drivers use the passing lanes to jump the queue, then attempt to merge back into the traffic jam. This causes people to brake suddenly, which can upset the gradual but steady traffic flow, and cause nose-to-tail crashes.

“When we close the passing lanes during the holiday peak, we actually get a greater rate of traffic flow, because we don’t have snarl-ups at the end of each passing lane.”

A holiday from roadworks too...

The Transport Agency will stop all road works on the state highway network unless there is an emergency, from 12.00pm on Friday 24 October until 9.00am on Tuesday 28 October.

However, work is continuing on the Kapiti Expressway, and motorists are reminded to keep their eyes peeled for speed restrictions and construction activity at the intersection of Poplar Ave and SH1.

Stay informed...

For the latest travel information and traffic cameras, go towww.nzta.govt.nz/traffic(external link) or call the NZTA freephone 0800 4HIGHWAYS (0800 44 44 49). You can also follow the @nztawgtn twitter feed for updates on road conditions, delays and closures.

The Transport Agency also uses other technology to provide information to enable drivers to make better informed choices about their travel. On The Move is a free service which enables people to sign up for information about crashes, road works and driving conditions on their frequently used routes - to sign up, go to www.onthemove.govt.nz(external link).

“Planning before leaving home, together with careful and considerate driving will help people reach their destinations safely, enjoy their spring break and then have a safe trip home,” says Mr Owen.

Stay safe….

NZTA’s top tips for a safe Labour Weekend

  • Before hitting the road, take the time to check your vehicle is safe – check the tyres, indicators and lights.
  • Allow plenty of time for travel – slow down where and when risks are high and make the journey part of the holiday
  • Plan ahead and check the conditions at www.highwayinfo.govt.nz(external link) or 0800 44 44 49, or plan your route with www.onthemove.govt.nz(external link)
  • Take regular breaks from driving to avoid fatigue
  • Avoid the busiest peak periods when highways are congested.

 The Agency urges people to drive at a speed that’s safe and appropriate for the road rather than trying to target the limit.
 “Highways and holiday hot spots are likely to be chocker at times as people celebrate the first long weekend break after winter, and that can make driving more stressful and more risky,” says the Transport Agency’s Road Safety Director Ernst Zöllner.

Over the past five years 32 people have been killed and nearly 600 more have been injured in Labour Weekend road crashes nationwide.

Mr Zöllner said in too many crashes travelling at speeds that are too fast for the type of road or the conditions has resulted in fatalities and serious injuries that could have been avoided. The Transport Agency is urging drivers to slow down, especially where and when the risks of things going wrong are higher than usual.    

“Many of the roads around our favourite holiday spots are narrow or winding. There is little room to get out of trouble if someone makes a mistake, and the faster you travel the more serious the consequence of any crash will be. Even on our safest roads the impact of a crash at 110km/h is much higher than at 100km/h, and on our less forgiving roads without paved shoulders or with trees and other objects near the roadside a crash that might be survivable at 80km/h could well be fatal at 100km/h.

“When traffic is heavy during the holidays and driving conditions are less than ideal the safe speed to travel will be lower than usual. We’re urging everyone to be patient, relax, enjoy the journey and drive at a speed that’s safe for the more challenging Labour weekend conditions.”

Mr Zöllner said the Transport Agency would be working with the Police and local authorities to keep traffic moving and keep families safe on their travels during the holiday break.

“Statistics don’t tell the story of the huge impact on family and friends when loved ones have been killed or seriously injured. We all have a responsibility to look after ourselves and our families, as well as others we share the road with.” 


For more information please contact:

Anthony Frith
Media Manager - Central Region

T: 04 894 5251
M: 021 27 213 7617