Tens of thousands of shoppers across the country have headed to malls to cash in on deals proving too irresistible to miss.

People and traffic are queuing for their chance to grab a bargain that will see them save as much as 70 per cent at some of New Zealand's biggest stores.

In Auckland the lure of saving money is causing a headache for motorists on Auckland's motorways.

The Southern Motorway and Mt Wellington Highway has been gridlocked for much of the day as shoppers heading to Sylvia Park clog main roads.

Advertisement

Now traffic is banking up on the Northern Motorway as shoppers crawl into Wairua Park's Link Drive.

Queues of traffic headed for Sylvia Park mall are backed up on the Southern motorway offramp and mall security are out in force helping motorists find parks.

One shopper, Varis Jot, had headed along to the Boxing Day sales especially to buy a "massive TV" to use with his new PlayStation 4.

Jot was a man on a mission - he had already been to Manukau mall this morning where his TV of choice had sold out.

He described the traffic as "killer" but said the sales had been worth it.

"There are a couple of other things I want to buy but I think I'm done for the day just standing in the queues."

Jot was one of many keen shoppers who had headed along to the sales to grab something they'd had their eye on for a while.

Andrew Thomas had scored himself a pair of new adidas shoes he had been after for some time as well as a discounted dressing gown to prepare for next winter.

Advertisement

"I reckon if I went to buy this in winter it would be more expensive so I got it now while it was cheap."

But the Boxing Day shopping experience came at a price. The stress of battling the crowds meant many shoppers were leaving the mall frazzled, or without finding everything on their list.

Sylvia Park centre manager Lauren Riley was predicting Boxing Day sales would set a new record, due to the sheer number of sales and the new dining precinct within the mall.

The rush wouldn't finish when the mall shut its doors for the day at 9pm - many stores had sales that would continue over the week.

"Those who have decided not to come in today, we will see them tomorrow or some of today's shoppers might come in tomorrow too," Riley said.

On Auckland's North Shore traffic is barely moving on the Northern Motorway from the offramp leading to the Wairau Valley mega centre.

The NZ Transport Agency is warning people to avoid both areas altogether or expect delays if they choose to head to either shopping destination.

Traffic is also banked up in Hamilton with people searching for car parks at The Base where motorists report mayhem on the roads from early this morning.

Waikato police said traffic was starting to back up in Te Rapa and asked motorists to be patient on the roads this morning if they were heading out to get a bargain.

In Auckland long lines have formed outside stores.

Shopkeepers keen to cash in on the busiest retail day of the year are slashing prices on a plethora of big ticket items across major brands and all major stores are offering tantalising deals.

Last year Kiwis spent more than ever before on Boxing Day, spending a record $152.7 million through Paymark, according to the company's figures.

Pre-Christmas spending has risen again this year, with expectations the holiday period could be another record year for retailers.

On Thursday Kiwis spent $282.4m in a single day, with 178 transactions per second during the peak which occurred just after noon - a new record.

And as the shops fill for the Boxing Day sales there's confidence online sales won't kill off the annual tradition of heading to stores and malls to hunt bargains.

Amazon Australia is among the web retailers trying to entice buyers with online Boxing Day price slashing.

Retail New Zealand spokesman Greg Harford said although it would be a busy day local retailers also needed to be online to survive.

A survey shows one in 10 New Zealanders have put off Christmas shopping until today to snag a bargain.