The silly season is here with traffic jams aplenty, thousands of last-minute shoppers flocking to malls and soaring temperatures.

Thousands of Kiwis took to the streets from midday Friday for a Christmas getaway, but some faced further delays as passing lanes en route to the Coromandel closed in an effort to prevent crashes.

A serious crash southwards of Levin blocked State Highway 1 on Sunday, injuring a number of people and reportedly killing one.

The road toll stood at 337 as of Sunday, skyrocketing above last year's road toll of 259.


Twenty-three people have died in this month alone and police have pleaded that drivers take better care on the roads.

The NZ Transport Agency developed an interactive map highlighting the worst times, days and locations to be on the move in response to the motorway madness. Commuters can check the NZTA website for up-to-date information.

Motorists will still hit heavy traffic leaving main city centres, particularly Wellington and Kāpiti Coast roads are also expected to be choked with cars.

Weather-wise, it's set to be fine and settled weather across the country on Christmas Day.

A few showers may hit the east of the North Island around Gisborne as well as the deep south of the South Island, but otherwise December 25 will dawn fine for almost everywhere.

Cooler temperatures are expected in main centres of the South Island, with Wellington on 19C, Christchurch 17C and Dunedin 15C.

Hot spots on Christmas Day include Thames, Paeroa, Waihī and Kerikeri, all set to sizzle with highs of 25C, while Aucklanders will see a more mild 22C.

At malls near and far, tens of thousands of people wandered under fluorescent lights in search of presents at the weekend.


But what to do if you're fatigued by the endless tide of plastic and waste we ultimately stuff into our rubbish bins to pile up on landfills come boxing day?

• Pay it forward: Monster fires are chewing across Australia amid scorching 40C+ temperatures, Kiwis are still reeling from the Whakaari/White Island disaster and the number of those sleeping rough has soared.
How about donating to Australia's Rural Fire Service (RFS) on the behalf of Aunty Karen and give write her a card telling her what the donation will do?
Any amount you can give would go a long way towards the firefighting and recovery effort. You can donate to RFS online, or to the Red Cross Relief and Recovery Appeal, to assist those recovering in fire-ravaged areas.

Locally, Middlemore Hospital has appealed for help in treating the extreme injuries of those in its burns unit in the wake of the devastating Whakaari/White Island eruption.

You can donate online on the Middlemore Foundation website.

Eastern Bay Community Foundation is also accepting donations to go towards the recovery needs of those affected.

• Tis' the season for purpose: Why not spend your day volunteering at the Auckland City Mission for Christmas Day lunch? Even smaller steps make all the difference: write a thank you note, give toys or clothing to a charity, reach out to a distant family member, or put a few cans in the food bank after a supermarket shop.


• Carbon offset those miles: Thousands of cars took the roads at the wrap of the work year and travellers flooded airports nationwide. For as little as $10, you can give someone a native tree and the Kaipatiki Project will plant it for you, improving Auckland's biodiversity as it grows. Most airlines also offer a carbon offset option when you book flights.

• Give thoughtfully: What's something you can give a loved one that they can't find anywhere else? Build or make something, plant your mum's favourite flowers in her garden or clean the bathroom if it needs a bit of TLC.

• Wasteful wrapping be gone: As festive as that glossy, Santa-covered wrapping paper lurking in your cupboard is, chances are it's neither recyclable nor biodegradable. Whatever gift you decide on in the end, how about wrapping it in something that won't go on next week's rubbish truck? Bundle the presents up in a reusable or tote bag that can be used in the next supermarket shop, old newspapers from yours truly, brown craft paper, food tins or cloth.

Bonus points if you can keep it all secure with string, rather than with plastic-coated sellotape.