Ten crashes, with one involving a pregnant woman, have police warning motorists to slow down and watch following distances in wet weather ahead of Queen's Birthday weekend.
Between 7am and 3pm yesterday, 10 motor vehicle crashes were reported to police, with most happening during heavy showers. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured.
A four-vehicle crash at Glenbervie, east of Whangārei, involving a pregnant woman, happened during a two-hour period in which more rain fell than for all of February.
The woman was taken to hospital as a precaution and all four vehicles were towed away.
MetService is forecasting rain for Northland over the weekend - not enough to break the drought in the north or to solve the water shortage - but enough for drivers to need to take care, drive to the conditions and be patient on the roads.
Normally it is one of the busiest weekends on New Zealand roads, particularly on Friday night as people head north for a long weekend.
Police are expecting an increase in traffic coming into the region and hope common sense prevails.
Acting Senior Sergeant Terry Phillips said officers would be out on the highways from Kaitaia to the Brynderwyn Hills.
"It's the first long weekend we have had in level 2 and people will be looking forward to coming to the district.
"Police will be visible out on the roads but, with some wet patches, forecast we really urge people to drop their speeds, drive to the conditions and watch their following distances," Phillips said.
He said the number of crashes yesterday highlighted how motorists needed to adapt to the conditions.
There were four fatal crashes in Northland during levels 3 and 4, along with several serious crashes.
June 1 marks the official start of winter, according to meteorologists, while people following the astronomical seasons welcome winter on June 22, known as winter solstice and the shortest day of the year.
MetService meteorologist Peter Little said more rain was forecast for today which would also continue through tomorrow night to Saturday morning before it eased to showers for the rest of the long weekend.
"The rain there has been is really just a drop in the bucket in terms of what's needed but it will bring some relief to those wanting to fill water tanks."
Temperatures would remain around 19 to 20C, about average for this time of year.
Northland Regional Council 24-hour rainfall figures to 5pm yesterday showed 82.5mm of rain fell on the Brynderwyn Hills, 40mm at Marsden Point Oil Refinery, 53mm for Wilson's Dam at Ruakaka, 24.3mm in Whangārei and 39mm at Waitangi.
Just 8mm fell at Kai Iwi Lakes near Dargaville, 12mm at Cable Bay and 21mm at Houhora.
NRC hydrologist field operation manager Stephen Kittow said while it was not enough to break the drought, it was great to see the region get a good amount of rain as streams in the area had been running quite low.
"The rain got to where it was needed and it was good rainfall. Not the drizzly stuff but constant with more volume to it."
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is encouraging drivers heading away for Queen's Birthday weekend in the Auckland and Northland region to take care and be prepared for heavy traffic, delays and changeable weather.
"After the Covid-19 restrictions keeping people close to home for the last couple of months, Queen's Birthday is a last chance for a long weekend away before winter sets in. We could be in for a very busy weekend on the roads," Auckland operations manager Rua Pani said.
"It may have been some time since people last drove a significant distance, so it's important they check their vehicles are safe and roadworthy and that they are fully prepared for the journey. That means leaving more time for their travel, checking the road conditions before they leave and driving to the conditions once on the road."
Last Queen's Birthday weekend, there were six fatal crashes and 115 reported injury crashes across the country, with nearly 40 per cent of crashes involving single vehicles where drivers lost control or ran off the road.
What should I do on the road if wet?
* Drive slower than you normally would – it only takes a split second to lose control in wet conditions
* Avoid sudden braking or turning movements that could cause you to skid
* Accelerate smoothly and brake gently
* Use your highest gear when travelling uphill and your lowest downhill
* For vehicles without anti-skid braking systems, to avoid skidding or sliding, pump the brake pedal in short, rapid bursts rather than pressing long and hard
* Drive at a safe travelling distance because it takes longer to stop on slippery roads. In winter, especially in poor weather, double the two-second rule and leave a safe distance between you and the car you're following
* When travelling in fog, rain or snow, drive with your lights dipped for increased safety
Source: NZ Transport Agency