People wanting to sit practical driving tests are facing hefty waits of up to six weeks before their driving skills can be assessed.

The number of bookings for licences are 20 per cent above the national forecast and Aucklanders are having to wait three times longer than the New Zealand Transport Agency's two-week target.

In Auckland the average waiting time to sit a full licence test is 45 days. For the restricted test, it's 48 days.

NZTA national manager of delivery Robyn Elston said the higher demand was due to the flow-on effect from a law introduced in December 1, placing a five-year limit on learner and restricted licences. There were also fewer slots available over the festive period as instructors took holidays. Mrs Elston said the agency was working with its driver testing contractor to bring in extra staff to reduce the backlog.


"We recognise that this situation is causing significant inconvenience for learner and restricted drivers and their families and we apologise for the headaches and stress that this is causing them."

South Auckland mother Jackie Julian said she considered flying her son Logan to New Plymouth to sit his restricted driving test after the earliest time she could find in Auckland was more than two months away. Logan starts his new job as an apprentice diesel mechanic in Manukau next week and needs both the licence for the job and to get from his parents' place in Hunua to work.

The earliest the 16-and-a-half year-old was eligible to sit the test was January 18, when he would have had his learner's licence for six months.

"It's pretty bull that you have to wait that long to be able to sit something that actually helps you. It shouldn't be like that."

He had been practicing two to three times a day and also drove his parents between the road linking Coromandel and Matarangi when he was on holiday so was confident he could pass.

However Mrs Julian said: "They are making it too hard to get a booking, let alone pass. For us, if he fails then he's going to have to wait another two to three months to re-sit it. Most of them work 8.30am to 4pm or 4.30pm, so why don't they just work longer hours or on a Saturday to try and clear the backlog?"

The NZTA contacted the Julians after the Herald inquiries and have booked a test slot for Logan next Friday at Westgate in Auckland.