A man has died from a heart attack while in Christmas traffic near Wellington.

The man in his 30s or 40s was in a car on State Highway 1 near Paekakariki when the medical event happened, ambulance spokesman Greg Cottrell said.

Police confirmed the man had suffered a heart attack.

It was not yet known if the man was driving the vehicle at the time, but the car was on the side of the road when he had the heart attack, and there was no car accident.

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The incident happened in the northbound lane past MacKay's Crossing.