These are the worst traffic times and areas around New Zealand to avoid this summer

The time to stop, relax and bask in the summer sun is almost upon New Zealand but there's just one more hiccup in the way: holiday traffic.

And with almost double the number of deaths in December so far compared to last year, police are pleading with drivers to take it easy.

To help combat the amount of time stuck in traffic, NZ Transport Agency developed an interactive map highlighting the worst times, days and locations to be on the move.

Overall, the weekends are the worst times to travel, with heavy traffic beginning around mid-morning and finishing in the evening.

While traffic is tipped to be bad out of most main centres, horrendous traffic was also expected throughout the Kāpiti Coast.

Starting on Friday and running through until January 5, traffic on State Highway 1 between Peka Peka and Ōtaki would be busy each day.

On Friday, traffic would be busy from 8am until 6.30pm, with it heaviest between 10am and 5.30pm.

The story is worse for Saturday, with traffic building from 6am and becoming heavy for most of the day between 6.30am and 5pm.

And Sunday does not offer much reprieve, with traffic heaviest between 8.30am and 5pm - busy from 7.30am to 7pm.

Other hotspots kicking off on Friday are SH1 at Takanini southbound, SH1 between Puhoi and Wellsford northbound, and SH1 at Taupiri north of Hamilton heading south.

Predicted peak times are subjected to change based on the number of traffic incidents, weather and even driver behaviour.

To stay up to date with the latest updates, NZTA said commuters could check their "Journey Planner" for accurate information about road and traffic conditions.

"To help alleviate these problems we recommend planning your travel well in advance and travelling outside the busiest periods," they said.

"[Journey Planner is] a great tool to help people plan their trips with real-time travel information, traffic cameras, and updates on delays, roadworks and road closures."

December and January are typically two of New Zealand's highest-risk months on the roads, with 66 people dying over the two month period earlier this year.

Acting national manager for road policing Acting Superintendent Amelia Steel told the Herald she didn't want any more families grieving over the Christmas holiday.

"The people around you on the road are someone's loved ones, and somewhere on another road are your loved ones," she said.

"So let's all treat each other with patience and respect on the road. We're all just trying to get somewhere and we all want to get there safely."

Elsewhere, road safety advocate Caroline Perry asked for commuters to play their part following the deaths of over 330 people on New Zealand roads in 2019.

"The number of deaths on our roads is horrific, and there's a lot we need to do to make our roads safer," the director of Brake New Zealand said.

"We all have a part to play, from Government investing in our transport infrastructure to police enforcement to our own behaviour behind the wheel."

A major risk was when commuters drank alcohol during the festive season before getting behind the wheel - which should be avoided.

Perry said it took hours for alcohol to leave your system and research had shown even small amounts of alcohol impacted drivers' habits on the road.

Before heading out for a drink, holidaymakers should plan ahead about how they would get home, be it an Uber, taxi or a designated sober driver.

NZTA's top tips for safe holiday driving

  • Check your car is in good "health" before you head off: Check your tyre pressure and tread, windscreen wipers, indicators and lights.
  • Take extra care when travelling in holiday periods because of 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: Take 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.


And remember, drive safe New Zealand!

This article was first published on the NZ Herald and is republished here with permission.