Drivers have been warned to stay off main highways around Auckland between 10am and 2pm today to avoid another round of traffic jams and long delays.

Motorists endured a nightmare day on the roads yesterday as they left Auckland for the long Easter weekend.

Queues stretched up to 8km at the approaches to the $356 million Northern Gateway toll road between Orewa and Puhoi as congestion peaked between 10am and 1pm yesterday.

The Transport Agency's state highway manager for Auckland and Northland, Tommy Parker, said the amount of traffic on the road was at least 50 per cent more than normal.

The usual five to 10 minute journey over the 7km toll road in free-flowing conditions would yesterday have taken at least 20 minutes, possibly more.

He said that despite the addition for Easter weekend of a third machine for people paying tolls manually and a team of "ambassadors" to help with queues, the booths were busy.

"But all in all we're fairly pleased - there was some queuing at the tunnels, but traffic kept moving and people were patient, so we are certainly satisfied," said Mr Parker.

The delays were "to be expected" but many drivers had wisely chosen to take SH16 from Auckland through Kaukapakapa to Wellsford.

Southbound motorists also had a slow crawl.

Waikato road policing manager Inspector Leo Tooman said traffic flows were particularly busy on Thursday as families took an extra day off for the long weekend and the beginning of the school holidays.

But yesterday, traffic flows on SH1 and 2 were steady.

The Easter road toll was at five last night.

A 39-year-old man died at the intersection of SH1 and Bosher Road at Wellsford about midday yesterday after hitting a speed barrier on the side of the road.

A 48-year-old Morrinsville woman was killed when the car she was driving veered off the road and hit a bridge on SH26 on the outskirts of the town, about 9.30am.

The car then went 4m down a bank and landed on its roof.

A man, who did not want to be named, told the Weekend Herald he rushed to the scene and found the car with its front caved in.

He reached into the car to take the woman's pulse as emergency services arrived.

"But they [the person] were gone by the time I got there."

Constable Erik Harrewijn said police were investigating the cause of the accident and were awaiting the results of an autopsy.

Two men in their 20s died in a two-car crash on Springs Rd in the south Auckland suburb of Otara about 10.30pm on Thursday and early yesterday a young man aged about 17 was thrown from his car and died after crashing on Whangarei Heads Rd, near Whangarei.

The Easter weekend road toll period began at 4pm on Thursday and ends at 6am on Tuesday morning.

Last year nine people died over the long weekend.

In 2007, the toll was six.

EASTER ROAD TOLL
* 6 in 2007
* 9 in 2008
* 5 2009 (by last night)

- NZPA