Holiday traffic, wet weather and road closures have resulted in long delays on the roads, as people away for the long weekend head back home.

Motorists leaving the Coromandel faced hours-long delays after a truck crashed into a ditch early this morning and authorities were forced to close part of State Highway 25a.

Police reported "long tailbacks'' on SH25a, Kopu-Hikuai Road, late this afternoon.

"The traffic is backed up many kilometres from the coast to Thames,'' a spokesman said.
"It is expected that the long weekend traffic will take some time to clear.''


The truck rolled at Waitakaruru, near the Firth of Thames.

No one was injured, but the road was closed off for some time and diversions put in place as the truck was removed from the site.

Aucklander Matt Dalton, who was heading home with his family, passed the crash site shortly after the accident happened.

"When we passed, traffic was free-flowing. It looked like police had arrived [and] one tow truck, so the road hadn't shut yet."

They did not see a driver or ambulance, so assumed one had come and gone already, he said.

"We commented - my wife and I - that they're going to shut that road to get the truck out. And then we saw another giant tow truck heading the other way, so they were in the process of getting ready to remove it and shut the road when we went through.

"We were lucky. I was flying out to Sydney tonight and so we decided to come back to Auckland early because of the rain. So it actually had a silver lining - we made it through, otherwise I might've missed the flight.''

The circumstances of the crash are not yet known.

Dalton said it appeared the driver had veered off to the left of the road and ended up in a ditch. "He's actually blocking someone's driveway.''

In and around Auckland, State Highway 1 - Wellsford to Puhoi - is expected to be busy until up to 7.30pm as holidaymakers head back to the city.

The same is expected south of the city, in Takanini, with delays set to last up until 7pm.

In the Waikato region, there were delays on State Highway 1 - Cambridge to Tokoroa - as well as north-bound between Huntly to Taupiri.

Motorists in Wellington are being warned of a delay of up to 35 minutes on SH1, south-bound, between Levin and Otaki due to holiday traffic.

While in Canterbury, road users were advised of delays until up to 9pm on SH1, north-bound, between Ashburton to Tinwald.

Wet weather conditions are also adding to traffic delays. Rain - sometimes heavy - fell on much of the country throughout the day and more is expected this evening.

MetService issued a severe thunderstorm watch for the Bay of Plenty and Christchurch/Canterbury Plains, telling people to take care on the roads.

A period of rain and a moderate risk of thunderstorms and localised downpours were possible over parts of the Bay of Plenty this afternoon to early evening, mainly in the east and also coastal areas further west.

MetService warned that rainfall - between 20mm to 30mm per hour - may cause surface flooding and slips and therefore hazardous conditions for driving.

A couple heading home to Auckland, from Rotorua, said they had been at a standstill in traffic or travelling about 10km/h since the turn-off to Tauranga (State Highway 2) on State Highway 27.

It took them about half an hour to travel between the turn-off to Tauranga and the turn-off to the Coromandel, a distance of about 4kms.

"Cars were already travelling slow because of the weather. It's pouring down,'' they said.

"Some vehicles were towing boats home after being away for the long weekend, so they were slow because of that too.''

The NZ Transport Agency for Waikato and the Bay of Plenty region put out an alert just before 1pm via its social media sites warning drivers of heavy congestion in the area.

"Traffic is expected to be busy through this area between 10.30am and 10pm today.

"Road users are advised to expect delays and allow extra time for their journeys when travelling through this area.''

Those travelling are encouraged to keep updated via the NZTA's predicted busy periods hotspots page on its website.

Delays are also predicted via State Highway 1 to Wellsford, southbound.

The NZTA said traffic congestion is forecast to be busy through this area up to about 7.30pm today.

Again, motorists were urged to allow for extra travelling time.

Meanwhile, two people were killed on an Auckland road in the early hours of this morning following a police pursuit.

A 25-year-old woman and a 29-year-old man, who were passengers in the back seat, died when the car they were in hit a tree on St Lukes Rd about 1.12am.

The crash happened four minutes after a stationary police car on the northwestern motorway clocked the vehicle going about 130km/h in an 80km/h zone.

Five people were in the car at the time.

The driver, a 22-year-old man, and two other men in their 20s remain in hospital today with moderate to serious injuries.

At the Auckland Central Police Station today, Detective Inspector Scott Beard said the five people in the car were all friends.

"All I need to say is we need to stop people from fleeing from police. It's a risk to our community, risk to the driver, to the passengers and to the police staff."

Beard said officers had not yet spoken with the driver, but acknowledged that the driver of a second vehicle in the area at the time had been in touch with police.

Police were offering support to the families of the man and woman killed.

"Today we have two families who are now suffering the tragedy of losing loved ones. We've got support in for them,'' he said.

"Similarly, police attending a crash where a speeding vehicle with five people hits a tree - it's difficult for them as well. So we have support and welfare services helping our police staff.''

The deaths take the Labour Weekend road toll to four.

Last year, three people were killed on our roads over the Labour Weekend. Another 94 people were injured in other reported crashes.

The official road toll period started at 4pm on Friday and will end tomorrow at 6am.

On Friday, half an hour before the official road period toll started, a driver was killed on State Highway 2, outside of Raupunga, near Wairoa. Police said she died at the scene.