Motorists faced lengthy delays out of Auckland heading north this afternoon, with one motorist claiming the drive from Puhoi to Warkworth would take hours.

The motorist, who called the Herald anonymously early this afternoon, said he was joining the back of a massive queue of vehicles at Puhoi.

Around 16km north, a friend was at the front of the queue, who told the motorist usually quick commute would take two hours.

"It's because of the lights at Warkworth," the motorist said.


However, a Google Maps search online for the journey between Puhoi and Warkworth suggested it would take 27 minutes.

About 1.20pm, NZ Transport Agency alerted Twitter followers to expect "heavy" traffic northbound on State Highway 1 this afternoon.

Traffic was heaviest between Puhoi and Warkworth, they said.

Motorists heading out of the city northbound were advised to avoid SH1 and use a different route or to consider leaving later in the day.

About 4.40pm, NZTA advised that congestion had eased on SH1 between Puhoi and Warkworth.

Traffic hell threatens to sour the end of the holidays for many Kiwis but data from last summer can help predict the best time to brave the journey back home.

Those wanting to avoid some of that pain should pack up the car and kids and hit the roads as early or late as possible.

To help motorists, NZTA released a Holiday Planner that used information from last year to predict the best - and worst - time to brave the commute home.


Green indicates free-flowing traffic, orange shows "busy" and red "heaviest" congestion.

During daytime hours, some of the main holiday routes are predicted to be largely in orange and red.

The predictions are subject to change based on weather and other factors like crashes, and commuters should also check its Journey Planner tool for real-time information.

Below are the Holiday Planner predictions for today and tomorrow.