It has begun.
The inevitable traffic snarl-ups on major New Zealand roads as holidaymakers and New Year party goers hit the roads.
The NZ Transport Agency said traffic was starting to build southbound on State Highway 1 through both Wellsford and Warkworth - as expected.
They are urging motorists to allow extra time and keep cool in the congestion by planning travel wisely and being aware of the hot spots.
In the Auckland region, motorists can expect busy roads at SH1 at Takanini, south of Auckland, and between Puhoi and Wellsford, as well as SH2 at Maramarua, east of the SH1/SH2 interchange.
At Takanini, the motorway was expected to busiest between 2pm and 4.30pm for northbound traffic and between 10am and 4.30pm for southbound traffic, while heavy traffic was also predicted for most of the day at Maramarua.
On SH1, in both directions between Huntly and Taupiri, traffic would be heavy between noon and 5.30pm for northbound travellers, and between 10.30am and 12.30 for southbound motorists.
Northbound traffic between Puhoi and Wellsford would be busy between 10am and 4.30pm.
Hot-spots elsewhere in the North Island included SH1 at Kawakawa and Whangarei; SH1 at Karapiro in Waikato; SH29 over the Kaimai Ranges; SH2 between Tauranga and Katikati; SH2 between Paeroa and Waihi; SH5 at Te Pohue, north of Napier; SH2 between Hastings and Norsewood; SH1 between Taihape and Waiouru; SH1 at Kapiti; and SH2 over the Rimutaka Hill between Wellington and Featherston.
In the South Island, motorists were being warned of multiple potential choke-points along SH1 in Canterbury - including between Ashburton and Christchurch; Waimakariri and Waipara - along with SH73 at Arthurs Pass and SH7 at Lewis Pass.
Other southern congestion spots were SH6 at Queenstown, SH63 at St Arnaud, and SH6 at Murchison, and between Nelson and Blenheim.
Traffic could also be slowed by road-works, accidents and slips at many highway sites around the country.
On the Southern Motorway, there would be work over the rail line at the Takinini Interchange during daytime hours until January 7, but no lane closures.
Motorists travelling on SH20A to Auckland Airport over the holiday period were also advised to add an extra 30 minutes to their journey with extra traffic in the area and some roadworks causing delays.
Road users were cautioned to take extra care over Wellington's Ngauranga Flyover, due to damage to the southbound barrier from an earlier crash.
Slips on SH4 at Otoko, north of Whanganui, and at SH11 at Lemons Hill near Paihia, have caused 30km/h speed restrictions to be put in place.
Repairs, maintenance and other roadworks in the North Island were taking place at SH1 between Porirua and Tawa in Wellington, at SH2 between Bayview and Napier; at SH3 between Te Kuiti and Eight Mile Junction; at SH1 between Hamilton and Cambridge; at SH36 at Oropi Gorge Rd in the Bay Of Plenty; at SH2 from Pokeno to Paeroa; and southbound on SH1 between Onewa Rd and Shelly Beach Rd in Auckland.
In the South Island, Inland Route 70 was currently open at all times, but road users were advised to expect minor delays as there are multiple work sites along this section of road and to allow three hours travel time between Kaikoura and Christchurch.
SH1 from Goose Bay to Peketa, and from Mangamaunu to Clarence, was open from 7am and 8.30pm daily.
"Our teams will be on duty 24 hours a day seven days a week across the holiday season to monitor and manage traffic flows and will be working hard to keep people informed about traffic conditions," NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) system manager Steve Mutton said.
After the New Year, NZTA crews will be making the most of the warmer, drier months to get ahead on major highway projects.
"We do much of our work in summer because we need warm, dry conditions to help new road seals to stick to the existing surface and create more durable highways," Mutton said.
"We ask motorists to slow down through road works and respect the reduced speed limits because we want everyone including workers and motorists to stay safe this summer."
Six tips for safe travelling this holiday period
1. Plan ahead.
Get your vehicle checked before you head out, plan to avoid peak traffic where you can and give yourself enough time to take plenty of rest or sightseeing breaks along the way. It's your holiday after all, so why not make the journey an enjoyable part of it? For more information on predicted busy periods, visit www.nzta.govt.nz/hotspots
2. Drive to the conditions. This isn't just about weather conditions –
it's about the road you're on, the traffic, your vehicle and load, your speed, your following distance, and adjusting your driving for wet and windy conditions.
3. Watch out for fatigue. Long trips are tiring and fatigue can be deadly behind the wheel. Get a good night's sleep beforehand, plan in advance where you'll take breaks along the way, and be aware of any medication you're taking that might affect your driving.
4. Keep your cool. Holiday driving can be frustrating with busy roads, stifling heat and restless kids in the car. So please, be courteous and patient while on the roads. Don't get provoked by other drivers' aggressive behaviour, and wait to overtake until you get to a passing lane or can see enough clear road ahead of you to do it safely. And be sure to take enough games, books, DVDs or electronics to keep the kids occupied along the way.
5. Buckle up. Don't let your family holiday be marred by tragedy simply because someone didn't buckle up. If you're the driver, you are legally responsible for making sure all passengers under the age of 15 are securely restrained with either a safety belt or child restraint. Children must be properly restrained by an approved child restraint until their 7th birthday.
6. Don't drink and drive. The alcohol limit for adult drivers is now lower, and your judgement and reaction times begin to deteriorate after even one drink. Keep it simple – if you're going to drink, don't drive.