Live: Labour weekend traffic builds out of Auckland as holidaymakers escape early

by RNZand NZ Herald

Traffic is already getting heavy heading north out of Auckland between Puhoi and Warkworth as holidaymakers escape for the long weekend.

A lot of cars are also on State Highway 1 heading south around the Bombay Hills.

In the South Island, the Christchurch Transport Operations Centre said no known issues were affecting travel.

“We expect holiday traffic to start to pick up north and south of Christchurch from about 2pm. At the moment SH1 is running freely.”

Police are urging motorists to be patient on what are expected to be congested Labour Day weekend roads.

Inspector Peter McKennie says keeping speed down is fundamental to safety and many more New Zealanders will be on the road because they have not been able to holiday overseas this winter.

He says it is also the first long weekend of spring and, for many, the first weekend since alert level 2 or 3.

“There’ll be lots of people on the roads. We want everyone to ease off on the accelerator, make sure you’ve got your seat belts on and get through your journey safely. It’s important just to be safe on the roads and to stay alert for your whole journey this weekend.”

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency has tipped traffic north out of Auckland between Puhoi and Wellsford to be especially heavy from 3pm to 7pm and again tomorrow from 11am to 2pm.

It also tipped traffic south through Papakura to be heavy from 11.30am to 7.30pm today and again on Saturday and Sunday from 11.30am to 1pm.

Traffic out of Wellington north along the kāpiti Coast is expected to be busy all weekend.

NZTA is warning motorists that heavy traffic is expected around Otaki from 2pm to 7pm today.

Heavy northbound traffic is also expected in the area on Saturday, Sunday and Monday also.

McKennie says motorists – particularly motorcyclists – should also make sure their vehicle is in a safe condition before heading out.

“We’veseen an increase in motorcyclists coming to grief on the roads recently. A lot of seasonal motorcyclists grab out their bikes during the finer weather. It’s very important for them to check their bikes, make sure they’re safe.”

McKennie says tyre pressure is often overlookedbut can cause motorbikes to “come to grief on bends if they’re not careful”.

McKennie says drink and drug driving will continue to be a focus – with suitable Covid precautions in place at roadside stops.

“We obviously have sanitisation procedures in place to make sure the devices we use are safe and so people can say their name and address into the devices [without]infection risk.”

Another crash prevention measure is “fatigue stops”, which are being used in some areas to encourage drivers to take breaks.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council introduced the concept a decade ago, encouraging drivers to pull over, take a break and help themselves to free refreshments.

A fatigue stop has been set up today on State Highway 5 between Napier and Taupō, four days after a crash between a van and a truck on the road claimed one life and injured 10 others.

Road Safe Hawke’s Bay manager Linda Anderson says the group sets up rest areas with tables and chairs in 100km/h rural areas in partnership with police where people can have a break and perhaps a coffee or refreshments.

“It is around having a conversation with those drivers about taking breaks throughout their journey.”

Some drivers stay for up to an hour, she says.

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