By RNZand NZ Herald
Motorists heading south are battling the worst of the long weekend traffic as the Southern Motorway grinds to a halt.
Bumper to bumper traffic now stretches from the city centre to Papakura.
The drive from Hobson St to Drury is now taking 53 minutes.
Those heading north
are perhaps having an easier time than expected.
However, they still face bumper-to-bumper jams at typical choke points, including
Warkworth and Wellsford.
However, northbound traffic was flowing surprisingly
freely within Auckland's city limits.
The journey from Fanshawe St in the city to Wellsford is now taking 1 hour and 25 minutes, according to Google Maps.
Wellington's long weekend traffic was now also flowing more freely.
Motorists could expect a clear run out of the city before running into heavy traffic after Waikanae and heading into Otaki.
A serious crash just after 5pm between a motorbike and car on Main Rd North in Timberlea in Upper Hutt was causing delays, however.
Emergency services were at the scene, police said.
In the South Island, the Christchurch Transport Operations Centre said no known issues were affecting travel.
Police are urging motorists to be patient on what are expected to be congested Labour Day weekend roads.
Inspector Peter McKennie says keeping speed down is fundamental to safety and many more New Zealanders will be on the road because they have not been able to holiday overseas this winter.
He says it is also the first long weekend of spring and, for many, the first weekend since alert level 2 or 3.
"There'll be lots of people on the roads. We want everyone to ease off on the accelerator, make sure you've got your seat belts on and get through your journey safely. It's important just to be safe on the roads and to stay alert for your whole journey this weekend."
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency has tipped traffic north out of Auckland between Puhoi and Wellsford to be especially heavy until
7pm and again tomorrow from 11am to 2pm.
It also tipped traffic south through Papakura to be heavy until
7.30pm today and again tomorrow and Sunday from 11.30am to 1pm.
Traffic out of Wellington north along the kāpiti Coast is expected to be busy all weekend.
NZTA is warning motorists that heavy traffic is expected around Otaki until
Heavy northbound traffic is also expected in the area tomorrow, Sunday and Monday also.
McKennie says motorists - particularly motorcyclists - should also make sure their vehicle is in a safe condition before heading out.
"We've seen an increase in motorcyclists coming to grief on the roads recently. A lot of seasonal motorcyclists grab out their bikes during the finer weather. It's very important for them to check their bikes, make sure they're safe."
McKennie says tyre pressure is often overlooked but can cause motorbikes to "come to grief on bends if they're not careful".
McKennie says drink and drug driving will continue to be a focus - with suitable Covid precautions in place at roadside stops.
"We obviously have sanitisation procedures in place to make sure the devices we use are safe and so people can say their name and address into the devices [without] infection risk."
Another crash prevention measure is "fatigue stops", which are being used in some areas to encourage drivers to take breaks.
Hawke's Bay Regional Council introduced the concept a decade ago, encouraging drivers to pull over, take a break and help themselves to free refreshments.
A fatigue stop has been set up today on State Highway 5 between Napier and Taupō, four days after a crash between a van and a truck on the road claimed one life and injured 10 others.
Road Safe Hawke's Bay manager Linda Anderson says the group sets up rest areas with tables and chairs in 100km/h rural areas in partnership with police where people can have a break and perhaps a coffee or refreshments.
"It is around having a conversation with those drivers about taking breaks throughout their journey."
Some drivers stay for up to an hour, she says.