Simone Rinke-Mailman just couldn't stand it. But stand it she had to - she was returning to our biggest city from one of our favourite destinations on one of our favourite long weekend breaks.

The Silverdale mum was one of thousands to escape the Big Smoke for the four-day Easter holiday weekend. She was also one of thousands stuck in traffic on the way home.

Mrs Rinke-Mailman, her husband Paul and their children, Amelie, 10, and Alexander, 7, spoke to the Herald from their slow-moving car at Papakura just before 6pm yesterday - almost six hours after they left Taupo. The journey should take four hours, but the family were expecting to reach their home in the North Shore suburb at 7pm at the earliest.

"We went down on Saturday, which was not difficult, but coming back, it's been really slow. It took us 45 minutes to go 6km. I just can't stand it ... and I've got two kids in the car."


The kids were being kept distracted - mostly - by gadgets, but she had still learned a lesson from the experience, Mrs Rinke-Mailman said.

"Next time we'll take an extra day off at the end."

The family weren't even travelling on the worst-affected stretch of road - that fate was endured by motorists making their way towards Auckland on SH1 through Wellsford.

Yesterday afternoon, southbound traffic into the north Auckland town stretched 7km along the highway, although there was relief further south, with traffic flowing at the Northern Gateway Tunnel and Puhoi.

Travelling north to Auckland, queues stretched 5km to 6km on SH1 between Taupiri and Huntly and congestion was also reported at the roadworks at Rangiriri and between Ramarama and Takanini, also on SH1.

Journeys through Whangarei and out of the Coromandel Peninsula, via SH25A, were also slow during the last day of the break. But congestion had eased by about 5pm.

Further south, it was a sluggish return to Wellington for those travelling on SH1 at Otaki. A tail of 6km was reported mid-afternoon, but had halved by 5pm.

Four people had lost their lives on the roads during the Easter holiday period, as of 7 o'clock last night.

The latest death, following a two-car crash at 1pm on SH1 at Mangaweka, 80km north of Palmerston North, lead to the closure of a section of the road for several hours. Motorists had to make a 45-minute diversion before the road was fully reopened about 5.30pm.

The rest of the country was not affected by holiday congestion, and traffic flows were almost back to normal by 6pm last night, according to the NZTA.