Thunder and lightning mixed with holiday weekend traffic and people driving north for the Lions has created a perfect storm for Queen's Birthday motorists.

The New Zealand Transport Agency has issued a warning for drivers, saying it's the first long weekend "before winter really sets in".

There are already reports of heavy snarl ups in central Auckland and a serious crash near Whangarei this morning left one person fighting for their life.

Meanwhile, MetService is predicting miserable weather for the Upper North Island with heavy rain warnings out.


There is also chances of thunderstorms, it said on its Facebook page.

THUNDER & LIGHTNING Heavy downpours and thunderstorms over Northland and north Auckland this morning. The thunderstorm...

Posted by MetService New Zealand on Thursday, 1 June 2017

"These bands of rain are not moving fast so will stick around for much of the day possibly bringing large accumulations," the Facebook post said.

"If you are heading away for the long weekend be aware there may be some surface flooding around the region."

NZTA is including the hashtag #LionsNZ2017 in their traffic update tweets.

The AA is warning motorists they should leave before lunchtime to avoid getting stuck in the worst of the traffic.

Top tips when heading away this weekend: 1) Leave well before lunchtime if you can 2) Leaving late? Traffic in Auckland...

Posted by AA New Zealand on Thursday, 1 June 2017

It warned traffic in Auckland would likely be locked up until 8.30pm. Those driving on Saturday should avoid the 11am-1pm window and when coming home on Monday drivers should try to remain outside the 2pm-6pm window.