Wellingtonians are asked to think ahead and use a new traffic-flow prediction tool to avoid delays this holiday season.
Available on the Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency website, the tool shows predicted traffic flow across the most popular routes over Christmas and New Year, based on last year's travel patterns.
However, this holiday period is expected to be even busier on the roads, due to fewer people travelling overseas, said Regional Transport Systems manager Mark Owen.
"Many people will be heading off on a well-deserved holiday over the coming days, after what's been a stressful year," he said.
"Traffic is always heavy in and out of Wellington during the Christmas and New Year period, particularly on State Highway 1.
"It's inevitable that there will be congestion and delays at peak times, so people may like to consider avoiding travel during peak times to make their journey safer and more enjoyable.
For those travelling north out of the capital, traffic is expected to be busy on SH1 on the Kāpiti Coast from 9am-6pm most days.
Traffic on Wednesday 23 and Thursday 24 (Christmas Eve) between 1pm and 5.30pm is expected to be heavier still.
He said State Highway 2 heading north over the Remutaka Hill would be slightly less busy.
For travellers heading south into Wellington, traffic could be heavy most days from 11am to 6pm, and even more so after Christmas.
It is expected to be especially busy on January 2 and 3 between 1pm and 7pm as Wellingtonians come home from their holidays.
Owen encouraged travellers to use the tool on the website as a guide.
"We're encouraging people to use our holiday journeys tool to help plan their trip, but as this year is a bit unusual, with fewer international tourists and more Kiwis traveling around New Zealand, it is hard to predict exactly what traffic patterns will look like."
"That's why it's also worth checking our real-time updates online before heading off."
He also asked drivers to be patient when encountering traffic congestion.
"We know that congestion and delays can be frustrating, but the most important thing is that everyone gets to their destination safely."
"Trying to 'make up lost time' by speeding and unsafe overtaking puts everyone on the road at risk.
"Even when it isn't the direct cause of a crash, speed is often the difference between someone walking away unharmed or being seriously injured or killed. For everyone's safety, please slow down."
He also asked drivers to drive to buckle up, drive to the conditions and watch out for fatigue when taking long journeys.