A woman was lucky not to be seriously injured when an axed smashed through the car windscreen she was a front seat passenger in and struck the book she was reading.

It was one of the more unusual traffic callouts police had over Labour Weekend with the massive increase in motorists in the region.

Sergeant Lance Goulsbro said the Auckland woman was left with bruises and cuts after the incident on State Highway 12, just outside Dargaville, about 2.25pm on Sunday.

The vehicle she was in was traveling towards Dargaville when another vehicle passed going the other way.

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Goulsbro said it was unclear if the axe had come from the passing vehicle of whether it had been on the road and bounced up and fired though the windscreen.

A child in the car was not injured and neither was the driver.

Between 4pm on Friday to 11.30am yesterday there had been 21 vehicle crashes reported to police including a driver who had crashed off Puheka Rd, near Rangiputa. The vehicle rolled but the male driver was able to free himself from the car and call emergency services about 11am on Sunday.

In another incident the Northland Rescue Helicopter was called to transport a 35-year-old man to hospital with leg injures after it was reported he was run over just after midnight on Sunday near a boat ramp on Tokerau Beach.

A person also had to be taken to hospital after a crash involving a vehicle and a tractor on Jordan Valley Rd, Hikurangi, on Friday.

The crash that caused the most disruption to holiday traffic was on Friday about 4pm when a three-car pile up south of Whangārei caused long queues to build quickly in both direction on State Highway 1, as emergency services dealt with the clean-up. An ambulance on its way to the crash was sideswiped by another vehicle which was reported to have continued driving.

Goulsbro said motorists had been quick to report errant drivers with 121 calls made to police for drivers passing on double yellow lines, speeding, talking on cellphone, tailgating, crossing the centre line.

Inspector Al Symonds said a vast majority of motorists had abided by the speed limits but police made no apologies about issuing tickets to those who were travelling faster than the 4km/h posted speed tolerance.

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He did not have a number on how many tickets were dished out over the weekend but said it was speed that determined whether you lived or died in a crash.

Symonds expected the flow of southbound traffic to build from midday yesterday until about 8pm. Extra staff had been rostered on for the busy period.

Rachel Spencer and Marc Garratt with their children Georgia, 10, and Issi, 8, and dog Busby stop for a roadside sausage sizzle courtesy of Adam Faithfull and Nathan Owre. Photo / Tania Whyte
Rachel Spencer and Marc Garratt with their children Georgia, 10, and Issi, 8, and dog Busby stop for a roadside sausage sizzle courtesy of Adam Faithfull and Nathan Owre. Photo / Tania Whyte

Drivers heading north on Friday utilised a Driver Reviver Fatigue Stop at Uretiti with about 300 drivers opting to pull over and have a rest.

The Road Safety Northland initiative had support from keen volunteers from Ruakaka 60s Up, Northland Road Safety Association, New Zealand Police, NZTA, Taimahi Trust, ACC New Zealand, Northland Regional Council and from Fulton Hogan.

Those who stopped enjoyed refreshments thanks to thanks Altura, Northland Hospitality and Anchor Milk and there was also a sausage sizzle.