Holiday motorists in Auckland are facing only the usual commuter delays as they get away for their Christmas breaks this afternoon, while those heading out of Wellington should allow extra travel time.

In Auckland, traffic was heavy this afternoon, similar to the usual peak-hour busyness, a NZ Transport Agency spokeswoman said.

"It's like a normal Wednesday. It's reasonably busy but nothing out of the ordinary."

Some minor crashes added to delays earlier.

Advertisement

One holidaymaker said it had taken her family about an hour to travel from West Auckland to the Bombay Hills.

"The traffic is awful," she told the Herald at 2.30pm.

"We have managed to get to Rangiriri now but the whole Southern Motorway was a nightmare."

She had seen the aftermath of several minor crashes, including a three-car, nose-to-tail collision near Takanini.

North of Wellington there are delays on State Highway 1, however, with motorists warned the short hop between Waikanae and Paraparaumu on the Kapiti Coast could take about half an hour longer than usual.

Those hitting the roads are being urged to drive safely and courteously for a trouble-free Christmas break.

Associate Transport minister Craig Foss encouraged drivers to "do the right thing and travel safely" over summer.

"The Kiwi road trip, a great holiday tradition, often involves travelling long distances on unfamiliar roads.

Advertisement

"Anyone getting behind the wheel can help keep themselves, their loved ones and other road users safe by following the rules and applying common sense."

No one wanted to see carnage on the roads, he said.

Transport Agency road safety director Ernst Zollner said no holiday should be marred by an avoidable tragedy.

"Deaths and serious injuries on our roads are not inevitable and every one of us has the power to make good decisions, which will keep the roads safer for everyone."

He said more cars on the road, tired drivers and driving on unfamiliar roads could all add to the risk of driving during the holiday season.

"That means keeping your guard up and keeping your speed down, driving sober, watching for signs of fatigue and sharing the driving."

The agency has published snapshots of highway routes around the country with dates and times noting where traffic congestion was particularly heavy at the same time last year.

The agency predicts congestion will be similarly heavy at the same times this year.

Its Auckland and Northland highway manager Brett Gliddon said it was the busiest time of year on the roads as people headed away to be with family and friends.

"The agency understands how frustrating it can be for motorists who are faced with delays and we do everything we can to manage holiday traffic on the highway network."

Drivers are advised to avoid travel during the heaviest congestion times, listed in bold on the maps, and are encouraged to use the agency's real-time data about travel times.

To minimise delays, road works outside of the main centres, barring emergency repairs, have now stopped and won't resume again until the second week of January.

For more information about road works around the country the agency is advising motorists to keep an eye on its Summer Journeys website.

"This saves stress and extra time on the road," said Mr Gliddon.

"We understand how frustrating it can be to encounter speed restrictions and delays, which is why we're giving people information now so they can make better choices about when to travel and how much time to allow."

He advised motorists to slow down through road works and respect reduced speed limits.