Holidaymakers heading home after the long weekend should avoid some of the key traffic hotspots or get a head-start to shave time off the journey.

But as people crawl home they can go in the knowledge they have had the best of the weather for the week.

Traffic is likely to be congested in Northland to Otago and a number of the key destinations in between and those wanting a smoother run should make an early start, according to the NZTA.

The state highways near Karapiro, Taupiri and Wellsford are the worst with traffic expected to be heavy for most of the day as people head back to the main cities.


Holiday-goers heading back to Auckland and travelling south on SH1 between Puhoi and Wellsford can expect traffic to build from 10am on Monday morning and be at its heaviest between 12pm and 7pm, while both the north-bound lane on SH1 near Takanini will be busy from 12pm to 7pm.

For those travelling around the north Waikato, SH1 near Taupiri will be busy both ways between 10am and 11am and while the south-bound traffic eases, the north-bound traffic gets heavier and motorists could be crawling between 12.30pm and 6.30pm. For those heading north along SH1 near Karapiro, similar delays should be expected.

SH29 on the Kaimais is looking slightly less congested with the westbound lane expected to be busy between 10am and 5pm, which is also expected to be the busiest time for traffic heading westbound on SH2 between Paeroa and Tauranga.

In the central North Island, traffic on SH1 between Waiouru and Taihape will start building from 10am but at its heaviest between 12.30pm and 4pm. SH5 at Te Pohue north of Napier will be heavy west and eastbound on Monday afternoon.

North of Wellington, SH1 at Waikanae will be the heaviest southbound from 11.30pm to 6.30pm. While SH2 at Rimutaka Hill will be at its slowest heading southbound from 2pm to 5.30pm today (Monday).

Waipara, north of Christchurch will be heavy heading south from 1pm to 6pm on Monday and SH1 between Ashburton and Christchurch will be heavy heading north from 1pm to 5.30pm.

Eastbound traffic on SH73 near Arthur's Pass is also going to be heavy between 1pm and 5.30pm. And while it is not expected to be quite as heavy, SH1 by Kaikoura will be busy between 10.30am and 5.30pm. While the time to avoid travelling on SH7 near Lewis Pass is 2pm and 4pm.

In Queenstown, motorists heading along SH6 are also in for a slow journey with traffic expected eastbound from 10.30am to 5pm on Monday and from 8.30am on Tuesday. A longer trip is also expected for those heading west between 10.30am and 5pm.

As of Sunday night, the holiday road toll was at one after a car crossed the median barrier and collided with a truck near Pokeno early Sunday morning.

Meanwhile, it may come to some relief to those heading back to work that the best of the long weekend weather has been and gone with cloud increasing and a few showers expected over the Coromandel, Bay of Plenty and Taupo on Monday afternoon.

MetService meteorologist Tom Adams said cloud would start to increase over New Zealand as a whole today even though temperatures were likely to be on average one degree higher than Sunday.

"There's a big swirl of cloud that is out in the Tasman to the west and what is happening is that's basically moving across the country. So the North Island which has had a spring like southerly wind which has made a nip in the air even while the sun is shining swings around to a northerly tomorrow so it will feel slightly warmer but unfortunately the cloud will be developing."

Auckland, the west coast and Waikato could expect cloudy periods in the morning but it was likely spread over the rest of country later in the day.

Hawke's Bay was one of the few places that would avoid being covered by cloud, he said.

Meanwhile the bad weather developed late in the week with rain forecast for a few places in the South Island, Taranaki and the top of Northland, which would stay in place until Thursday.

"It's classic spring weather in the case of you get some nice fine days, plenty of blue sky and then a front comes across bringing a period of rain, a bit of cloud and a bit of rain and then it clears up again for a couple of days until the next one," Adams said.

What's happening on Labour Day:

The heaviest hotspots - Worst time


Maramarua (East of SH1/SH2 Interchange (westbound) - 11.30pm - 3pm

SH1 - between Puhoi and Wellsford (southbound)- 11am - 7pm

SH73 - Arthur's Pass (eastbound) - 1pm - 5.30pm
SH1 - between Ashburton and Christchurch (northbound) - 1pm - 5.30pm

SH1 - Waipara, north of Christchurch (southbound) - 1pm - 6pm
SH1 - between Waiouru and Taihape (southbound) - 12.30pm - 4pm

SH5 - Te Pohue, north of Napier (eastbound) - 2.30pm - 5pm

SH1 - Taupiri, north of Hamilton (northbound) - 12.30pm - 6.30pm
SH1 - Karapiro, south of Cambridge (northbound) - 11.30am - 6.30pm

SH2 - Rimutaka Hill between Wellington and Featherston (southbound) - 2pm - 5.30pm
Source: NZTA

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