Patience, preparedness and allowing extra time are key messages for those motorists hitting the roads over Auckland Anniversary weekend.

If you are leaving Auckland city or staying and enjoying the smorgasbord of events, you will need to plan your travel to avoid peak times, the New Zealand Transport Agency says.

Those heading out this afternoon and Saturday morning will likely face heavy traffic. It would be the same for those returning on Sunday and Monday.

"We know that traffic heading north from Auckland will start building from about 11 o'clock on Friday morning, with the busiest times between 2pm and 8pm.

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"It's also busy Saturday between 10am and 3pm," NZTA Auckland operations manager Rua Pani said.

The agency, in a bid to aid drivers, had produced data on previous anniversary weekends and can predict expected peak times.

The data can be viewed here.

State Highway 1 will be busy so consider taking SH16 as an alternative route as far as Wellsford.

At busy times electronic signs on SH1 will display estimated travel times via SH1 and SH16 to give motorists a choice.

For those heading south or to the Coromandel, the Southern Motorway (SH1) was busiest Friday between 11am and 7.30pm, and Saturday between 8.30am and 1pm.

Returning on Monday, the motorway is busiest from 12pm through to 6pm.

"If you can plan your travel outside of these times you'll be giving yourself a much less stressful weekend and help ease congestion levels for everyone else."

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The message of planning and preparedness was also being reiterated for the Bay of Plenty and Waikato regions.

'"With events on such as the two international one-day cricket matches in Tauranga, the Hamilton Sevens and the Cambridge Town Cup Rowing Regatta, we are expecting the roads to be busy all weekend, and not just at traditional peak travelling times," NZTA Bay of Plenty systems manager Rob Campbell said.

"Those travelling should allow plenty of time for their journeys, drive to the conditions and plan ahead.

Make sure safety is the priority on the journey

• Check your tyre pressure and tread, windscreen wipers, indicators and lights before you head off.

• Take extra care. In holiday periods there are increased traffic volumes, congestion, tiredness and people driving in unfamiliar environments.

• Drive to the conditions - whether it's the weather, the road you're on, the time of day or amount of traffic.

• Avoid fatigue by taking regular breaks to stay alert.

• Keep a safe following distance from vehicles in front so you can stop safely.

• Be patient – overtaking is unlikely to make a significant difference to your journey time due to the amount of traffic expected over the weekend.

• Allow plenty of time. Remember you are on holiday, so there's no need to rush.