Traffic appears to be running smoothly on State Highway 1 between Whangārei and Auckland despite concerns about the impact of trucks hauling Christmas freight from Northland's port.
The first of about 800 trucks carrying 1200 containers of cargo from Northport have started the trek down to Auckland.
Trucks are coming through sporadically - not at the rate of one every five minutes - and traffic is flowing smoothly over the Brynderwyn Ranges.
Ben Floed arrived from Auckland to install a generator at Whangārei Hospital at 4am today and was heading back home this morning.
He said container-laden trucks had not been "too bad" as they drove pretty fast, and passing lanes and police checks all helped.
"I was worried when I left Whangārei but I haven't seen any, except those on the weighbridge. They can't be any worse than the logging trucks."
A police operation at Uretiti weigh station is checking all container-laden trucks heading south. There is only one container per truck heading to Auckland from Northport. All heavy goods vehicles heading north are also being stopped.
Up to a dozen trucks were expected to be leaving Marsden Pt every hour from 6am until midnight for the next week.
The cargo is from the ship Constantinos P, which was diverted to Northport because of delays in unloading in Auckland.
Up to 11 container ships were anchored in the Hauraki Gulf waiting to be processed at Ports of Auckland last weekend.
Constantinos P's diversion to Marsden Pt was seen as an opportunity for Northport to strut its ship-unloading stuff after adding a second crane early this year.
It docked on Sunday and it was expected trucks would begin moving the containers to Auckland yesterday morning.
Zali, from The Busy Bean Cafe on the Brynderwyn Hills lookout area, believes the number of container trucks heading south this morning has been three times the normal numbers.
She opened at 5am and said it had been her busiest morning so far this week.
"My customers say they got on the road early to beat the trucks. They were all prepared for the craziness."
Zali said no one spoke negatively about the truckies or the police checks at Uretiti. Most of those heading south went to Auckland, while others were off to Wellsford and other places, she said.
Usually, Zali deals with three or four early-morning customers, but she served 20 within an hour.
Wayne Brown, former Far North mayor and leader of the group that recommended moving Auckland's port to the North, said he had counted trucks heading south from Marsden Pt.
"In 30 minutes, six had containers out of 63 trucks - so it is hysteria about road clogging."
Northport spokesman Peter Heath said the delay was because 1170 containers destined for Auckland had been stacked to be unloaded there.
The different configuration at Northport needed an extra 300 container movements to get the Auckland-bound containers off the ship.
"For us it's been a massive learning exercise and we said at the outset it would be. Hats off and huge thanks to everyone involved for being so supportive."
The traffic won't all be one way. Empty trucks will return to Northport to pick up a new load.
A number of roadworks on State Highway 1 could slow traffic in both directions.
National Road Carriers chief executive David Aitken told RNZ it might be longer than seven days to transport all the goods.
"We estimate at best, [truck drivers are] going to be making two trips [each day] - that's if everything goes well," Aitken said.
"It's a challenging drive, it's not the best of roads compared to what they're used to. The average trip for containers from Auckland ports is around 30km, they're now going to be doing 140 to 150km one way on quite a challenging road that's got few black spots.
"I hear through NZTA that they've got at least two resealing jobs going on. It's going to add to the time it takes to get the container back to Auckland, which will limit the number of trips."
Waka Kotahi vehicle compliance officers, WorkSafe and officers from the police commercial vehicle safety team would be on the route.
Senior Sergeant Mike Flatt said officers would be checking the number of hours truck drivers spent behind the wheel.
"We know that truck drivers can work long hours and we want to ensure all freight is transported in a safe manner. Our officers will be focusing on ensuring truck drivers travelling between Northland and Auckland are not fatigued and are complying with their driving hour limits, while also checking that the trucks are roadworthy."
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency regional director Steve Mutton said motorists should plan more time for their journeys.
"We expect the roads to be busy in the lead-up to Christmas and there are only a few passing lane opportunities on the route. We ask motorists to be patient and give trucks space on the road for the safety of all road users.
"There may be delays on SH1 next week, and all drivers need to factor that into their plans. Trying to 'make up lost time' by speeding and unsafe overtaking puts everyone using the road at risk."
Mutton said road workers would also be busy south of Whangārei to complete as much of the scheduled road resurfacing programme as possible before the holiday period.