Patience is key for those heading out of town on Christmas Eve as traffic is expected to build along many of the country's main arterial routes.

The increased wheel traffic will likely be exacerbated by planned road works around Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Taranaki, the Manawatu, Wellington, Canterbury, the West Coast, Otago and Southland.

The New Zealand Transport Authority is predicting extremely heavy traffic on the Southern Motorway from 10am to 8pm through Manukau and Takanini.

Motorists heading up north, SH1 from Puhoi to Wellsford is expected to be at its busiest from 3pm to 6pm today

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So far traffic hasn't been anything out of the ordinary - barring a pig that wandered onto Auckland's Southern Motorway near Randwick Park at 10:30 this morning.

The black kune kune pig was spotted running down the motorway in the slow lane, forcing traffic to divert around it. The pig has since been recaptured by animal control.

Yesterday traffic crawled along the Southern Motorway with holidaymakers eager to get out of the city for Christmas.

This added to recent airport chaos that has plagued travellers with long queues of traffic and waiting times.

Two weeks ago, passengers missed flights and up to a dozen Air New Zealand services were delayed after crew were caught in gridlock around Auckland Airport.

While Air New Zealand is rostering more staff on to help passengers through terminals over Christmas and is communicating with those it can reach to advise them to expect congestion, motorists were urged to allow for extra time to get to the airport and through the terminal.

Drivers should also consider using Puhinui Rd, SH20B, to avoid the delays.

Keep an eye on traffic conditions as they unfold through the Herald's live blog.

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