Possible floods and cold weather might be coming this long weekend but that is unlikely to stop Kiwis hitting the road for a well-earned break away from their homes and former lockdown lives.

The Queen's Birthday break on Monday will be the first long weekend since alert level 2 and Kiwis were allowed to burst their bubbles and travel.

Airbnb and other short-term rentals last week already experienced a 465 per cent jump in bookings compared with the lockdown, and tourist operators were expected to be even busier this week.

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Roads have also been getting much busier.


During lockdown state highway traffic in the country's main centres dropped to just 10-20 per cent of normal volumes, before rising to 50 per cent in alert level 3.

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"With the move to level 2, this increased again, to about 70 per cent of normal in Auckland and Wellington, 85 per cent in Dunedin, 87 per cent in Christchurch and almost back to normal in Hamilton, at 95 per cent," a Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency spokesman said.

Aucklanders looking to escape the city after work today could additionally expect possible heavy rain and were urged to take care.

"Roads are expected to be busy as people take the opportunity to visit extended family," forecaster MetService said.

"If you are travelling by road, remember to drive to the conditions, especially as roads may be wet."

MetService Weather National: 29th May - 1st June

After a high of 16C today, Auckland could expect possible heavy rain periods tomorrow also and a top of 18C.

Scattered rain would then continue into Sunday before morning rain on Monday gave way to a high of 18C and isolated showers.

Those heading to the Coromandel and Northland were likely to run into even heavier rain.


Fellow forecaster WeatherWatch said floods could hit the Coromandel Peninsula as between 125mm and 150mm of rain fell on the ranges.

"If the rain bands take any longer to move through these numbers could actually increase," WeatherWatch's Phillip Duncan said.

The narrow band of heavy rain would also likely hit Northland, northern Auckland, western Bay of Plenty and spread across the rest of Bay of Plenty, East Cape, Gisborne and maybe even Hawke's Bay, he said.

"Around the outer edges of this system the rain may be more patchy with long dry spells, drizzly areas and even the odd sunny spell."

Whitianga could subsequently expect highs of 16C today, 17C Saturday and Sunday and 18C on Monday, MetService said.

Whangarei was set for possible heavy rain Friday and Saturday with tops of 18C and 19C, before scattered showers and occasional glimpses of the sun on Sunday and Monday and highs of 18-19C.


Authorities called for extra calm on northern roads after there were 10 crashes in an eight-hour period of heavy rain on Wednesday.

Tauranga was set for lighter rain today and a top of 16C, before heavier rain and a high of 16C hit tomorrow. Rain would then continue through the rest of the long weekend.

Hamilton, meanwhile, could expect lighter rain and lower temperatures than Auckland across the long weekend.

Those looking to head to tourist hotspot Rotorua for outdoor adventures, such as mountain biking, would also contend with rain and cooler temperatures.

That and wintry highs of between 13C and 15C across the long weekend, meant a holiday getaway in the town might be better spent in a private hot pool.

Further south, Wellington was set for slightly better weather with occasional rain across the long weekend and highs of 14C Friday and Saturday and 15C on Sunday and Monday.


In the South Island, conditions were expected to be more settled if a little chilly.

With the official start of winter on June 1, overnight temperatures this morning dipped to a wintry low of 0C in many parts of the South Island.

Christchurch will climb back up to a cloudy high of just 12C today with spots of rain, before a rain-free top of 13C tomorrow and occasional rain on Sunday and Monday with highs of 14C and 15C.

The many Kiwis heading back to Queenstown this long weekend were in better luck.

The adventure hotspot could expect a run of mostly fine and sunny days with tops of 12C today through to Sunday and a sunny high of 13C on Monday and Tuesday.

Last Queen's Birthday weekend, there were six fatal crashes and 115 injuries across the country.

Holiday rental bookings were up 465 per cent last week compared to during the lockdown. Photo / 123rf
Holiday rental bookings were up 465 per cent last week compared to during the lockdown. Photo / 123rf

Nearly 40 per cent of crashes involved single vehicles where drivers lost control or ran off the road.

With this Queen's Birthday being the last chance for a long weekend away before winter sets in, NZ Transport Agency Auckland operations manager Rua Pani tipped: "we could be in for a very busy weekend on the roads".

"It may have been some time since people last drove a significant distance, so it's important they check their vehicles are safe and roadworthy and that they be fully prepared for the journey.

"That means leaving more time for their travel, checking the road conditions before they leave and driving to the conditions once on the road.

"Make sure everyone has their seatbelts on, remove distractions and stay focused on driving, don't get behind the wheel if you've been drinking or are tired; and drive at a safe speed for the conditions."

Tips for safe long-distance driving:

β€’ Check weather and travel conditions on highways before you start your trip and on breaks throughout your journey - use www.journeys.nzta.govt.nz (external link) or call 0800 4 HIGHWAYS (0800 44 44 49).

β€’ Plan your journey, prepare for delays, and be mindful of other road users.

β€’ Drive to the road and weather conditions.

β€’ Slow down and be prepared for unexpected hazards.

β€’ If you are travelling long distances, share the driving and have regular breaks.

β€’ Wear your seat belt throughout the journey and check your passengers have theirs clicked in too.

β€’ Allow greater following distance between you and the vehicle ahead.

β€’ Avoid travel in bad weather if you can. Allow extra time if your travel can't be delayed.

β€’ Don't attempt to overtake other traffic unless it's completely safe to do so – it's not worth the risk.

β€’ Ensure your car is safe and equipped: spare tyre, warrant of fitness up-to-date, lights, brakes and wind-wipers all working, clean windscreen inside and out.