Motorists are being urged to drive to the conditions - and be patient - as thousands of holidaymakers get ready to head home after the school holidays.

Travellers are being urged to plan ahead, be patient and not take any undue risks, following what has been horrific week of tragedy on the roads that saw three die in a Southland crash on Sunday and four others north of Taupo on Tuesday.

The deaths have pushed the annual road toll to 297, among the highest the last five years, compared to just 254 the same time last year.

It is just October but the figure already puts the toll above 2013's 253 deaths and 2014's 293. The highest road toll was 2016's 328.


An NZTA spokeswoman said traffic had likely started building up from about midday and advised motorists to keep up to date with traffic conditions before getting on the road.

"We'd advise motorists to avoid the busiest times if they can, or to allow plenty of time for their travel to remove frustrations if there are delays.

"There's construction and maintenance work taking place across the region too and we'd encourage motorists to slow down through these sites."

She said heading into Auckland the traditional pinch points were around the State Highway 1 and State Highway 2 interchange from Coromandel, on the Southern Motorway from Takanini, and around Puhoi and Warkworth to the north of Auckland.

New Zealand Automobile Association motoring affairs spokesman Barney Irvine said there should not be any major delays this weekend compared to a long weekend, as people tended to stagger when they returned home.

"People take breaks at different times over the two-week period and return to the city at different times. So while we'd expect to see more delays than on a standard Sunday, we wouldn't expect them to be as intense as the last day of a long weekend."

Fortunately the weather is not expected to add to any travel woes, with MetService forecasting minimal rain around most parts, barring a few thunderstorms this afternoon in Dunedin and North Otago.

A few showers, hail and thunderstorms were also possible in the south and southeast of the South Island later on Saturday.

MetService forecaster Cameron Coutts said this weekend was looking up compared to last week.

"Compared to last weekend which was gloomy and wet, this weekend is looking brighter and drier as the features moving over the country are much weaker."

Around the main centres, Auckland looked like it would see a few drizzles and some patches of cloud through till at least the middle of next week, with temperatures hitting a balmy high of 18 today and tomorrow, before dropping down to 17 on Sunday and Monday.

Meanwhile Wellington was looking pretty cloudy, with similar showers through till the middle of next week. Temperatures in the capital were a little cooler than in Auckland, with it hitting a high of 16 degrees on Saturday.

The Garden City looked like it'll be the warmest of the main centres this week, with lots of sunshine and a high of 23 today. A few showers would creep in tomorrow, with a slightly cooler high of 19 degrees.

Keep up to date with traffic on the roads here