Motorists heading out of town for the long weekend yesterday faced lengthy delays as many of Auckland's motorways were clogged - but the standstill cleared earlier than expected.

It appeared to start building not long after midday and by 4pm cameras on the New Zealand Transport Agency site showed nose-to-tail traffic through the city and north and south along State Highway 1.

One motorist said it had taken her more than an hour to get from the harbour bridge to Manukau.

At 5pm, NZTA spokesman Andy Knackstedt said every main road heading out of Auckland was experiencing heavy traffic and significant delays.


"All main routes heading out of the city are pretty chocka at the moment."

Heading north, an NZTA warning was first put in place at Warkworth, advising drivers to expect long wait times and to stay away from the area if possible, using an alternate route in State Highway 16.

Commuters travelling south were then warned to expect particularly heavy traffic on the Southern Motorway just before Princes St.

The delay continued until 7pm, at which point the entire network began to clear up.

Auckland Transport operations manager Rua Pani said she hadn't received any reports of incidents, and by 7pm only a stretch of State Highway 1 from Manukau to Bombay remained heavy, but was moving well.

"It was certainly really heavy during the normal areas during peak periods, but it cleared much sooner than we expected it to for a long weekend."

She hoped the reason for the unexpected early absence of gridlock was because drivers were following NZTA advice.

"Potentially it's because people have decided to leave earlier than usual, I think more people leaving earlier would have this kind of effect on the traffic given what's happened today."

A police spokeswoman said there were no major crashes on State Highways outside of Auckland.

There were a few minor blockages, but no injuries and no major obstructions through to mid-evening.

New Zealand Transport Agency Auckland and Northland highway manager Brett Gliddon said the weather will play a large part in determining the busy periods during the return trip on Monday.