Heavy congestion on Auckland's motorway network following a police incident this afternoon appears to have mainly eased.

NZTA traffic cameras show traffic on most areas of the network flowing freely after hours heavy congestion.

The traffic gridlock was sparked by concerns for a young woman on a bridge this afternoon that forced police to close the Southern Motorway in both directions.

The woman's welfare sparked the closure of the motorway.


She was pulled to safety from a Grafton Rd bridge.

Images captured show the impact the incident has had on Auckland's motorway network, with traffic backed up north of the Harbour Bridge at Takapuna.

Earlier police had been negotiating with the woman on a bridge on Grafton Rd, above three Southern Motorway lanes.

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Police are negotiating with a young woman who is on an Auckland bridge above a central city motorway.

Police said the woman has now been detained.

She will be seen by medical professionals for assessment.

Police said during the incident police tried to ensure the movement of traffic continued and several lanes were reopened.

Police said their priority was the safety of everyone.

"We thank motorists for their patience and understanding over the past few hours," they said.

The entire motorway has now reopened.

The incident began about 3.30pm, when police closed the Southern Motorway in both directions, sparking long queues around the city's motorway system and feeder roads.

In a separate incident, a breakdown after Greenlane blocked the left lane citybound on the Southern Motorway.

Earlier a commuter on the Southern Motorway said: "It took me 45 minutes to get from the Southeastern on-ramp to the Greenlane off ramp, it usually takes about five minutes. It's actually madness."

Another commuter, Yelena Khalevina, just made it through the area before it was blocked off, and said traffic on the motorway is "pretty hectic".

She said the Southern Motorway heading north was blocked all the way back to Mt Wellington.

While she was driving through Grafton she said three police cars "rushed ahead", and there were two helicopters and an ambulance at the scene as well.

She said there were police on the Grafton Rd bridge.

"It's not moving, it's just gridlock, it's really bad," she said.

The traffic chaos came as the city prepared for the opening ceremony of the World Masters Games at Eden Park and the Da Bang tour of Bollywood superstars at Vector Arena.

More than 28,000 World Masters Games participants were expected at the opening ceremony at Eden Park.