Holiday traffic chaos has hit Auckland and Wellington, turning motorways into carparks with "extreme delays" as motorists flee the city for the long weekend.

New Zealand Transport Agency live cameras show traffic has eased slightly since the big rush out of the city, but queues remain in some spots south of Drury.

NZTA spokeswoman Sarah Azam said the heavy traffic was a result of the holiday departure times being moved from yesterday to today for many due to Cyclone Cook.

Azam said traffic in and out of Auckland was "all normal now, apart from a few queues into Wellsford".

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"We had two days of traffic travelling in one morning this morning but it's all looking pretty good now."

Earlier NZTA cameras showed heavy traffic southbound on State Highway 1 from Goodwood Heights, Manukau.

A Newstalk ZB newsreader heading into work described SH1 as a "carpark" southbound from Highbrook.

"It was stop-start stuff."

Congestion heading into Tirau. Photo / Supplied via Sam Crossman
Congestion heading into Tirau. Photo / Supplied via Sam Crossman

Motorists say SH16 is at a snail's pace north of Auckland, extending the drive to Wellsford to two-and-a-half hours. Several travellers have been seen turning around.

A slip has blocked the northbound lane south of Wellsford and a stop-go light has contributed to the congestion.

Another motorist taking the SH16 alternative route north to avoid the extreme delays said traffic is heavy but moved well to Kaukapakapa.


Teresa Couper posted on Facebook that she expected her journey to Kinloch to take longer than expected.

She also noticed an overhead sign displaying "extreme delays" at Wellsford, north of Auckland.

Joseph Silk, who also took the SH16 alternative north, said traffic "came to a complete stop" after Kaukapakapa and it was "pretty much crawling up the hill".

Joseph Silk got this snap of traffic snaking north on SH16.
Joseph Silk got this snap of traffic snaking north on SH16.

Traffic is also very heavy at the Johnston Hill tunnels, where motorists are nose-to-tail.

Holiday-makers heading north out of Wellington are also being told to expect delays. The NZTA says it could take up to 45 minutes to get from Raumati to Otaki on SH1.

Traffic is backing up on State Highway 1 in Bulls, where a truck has jack-knifed into the town's RSA.


High St has been closed as a result, and detours are in place. Police said it was lucky the vehicle's two occupants were not hurt.

The truck, carrying two trailers, demolished the outside veranda - leaving the awning hanging off the side of the building.

Easter holiday commuters heading south towards Coromandel, just north of Maramarua, State Highway 2. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Easter holiday commuters heading south towards Coromandel, just north of Maramarua, State Highway 2. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Bulls RSA treasurer Craig Stevens said it was devastating.

"It's about the fourth time our building has been crashed into by trucks. The last time, the driver actually got killed, this time - thank God - no one was hurt," he said.

Diversions are in place, but Hits radio host Daryl Mallett said the traffic was backed up to Ohakea.

State Highway 16 through the Kaimai Ranges is open again in both directions after a large slip was cleared.

Meanwhile, the clean-up continues other main roads around the country as Cyclone Cook tracks south.

Waikato traffic congestion issues:
• There is significant congestion southbound on SH1 before Tirau. Please consider using SH29 and SH28 via Hinuera & Te Poi as an alternate route

• SH2 is congested eastbound from Paeroa through the Karangahake Gorge. Please consider using SH29 via Kaimai Ranges if you're heading south/east towards Tauranga.