Holidaymakers returning to the city should brace themselves for delays as the state highways are packed with motorists rushing to get back for work tomorrow, NZTA warns.

The agency has closed the southbound passing lane at Otaki on the Kapiti Coast until 8pm because of congestion. Traffic is heavy from the town to Levin and NZTA advised motorists to expect delays up to 50 minutes.

Heavy congestion is expected at traditional choke points including Maramarua and Takanini for most of the afternoon and well into the evening.

North of Auckland State Highway 1 is likely to be busy all day between Wellsford and Puhoi and motorists should expect delays. Traffic has been building there since 9am and isn't expected to ease until about 8pm.

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State Highway 1 is also becoming congested in the Waikato. Northbound motorists should expect delays at Taupiri from about 1.30pm. Further south at Karapiro traffic will be at its heaviest from now until about 6pm.

NZTA has issued a strong wind warning for Rimutaka Hill north of the capital, advising motorcyclists and drivers of high sided vehicles to take extra care. Traffic is expected to be at its heaviest there between 2pm and 5pm.

In central Wellington a breakdown was blocking the right lane of the motorway between the interchange and Aotea Quay this afternoon but has now been cleared.