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Where traffic will be worst these holidays

AUCKLAND - FEB 13 2017: Traffic jam in Auckland, New Zealand.Auckland has the longest morning peak-time in Australasia, from 5am - 10am.

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Find out which roads, and when, to avoid over the break.
Photo: 123rf

Thinking of driving north from Auckland between Puhoi and Wellsford after work on Friday? Perhaps think again.

Waka Kotahi has just released an online tool showing likely holiday traffic jams, based on modelling and what’s happened in previous years.

Among the first jam predictions is State Highway 1 north of Auckland on Friday afternoon and Christmas Eve (Saturday) around lunchtime.

Kapiti Coast was showing up as likely to be significantly congested on Thursday. For most lunchtimes in the next week, the worst spot will be traffic merging onto SH1 at the northern exit of the newly opening expressway at Otaki.

Another significant jam was predicted at Queenstown on Christmas Day and around the New Year.

In Otago, there will be delays at the single-lane Beaumont Bridge, SH8. The good news – not that it helps anyone in the next week or so – is that the delays are due to the nearby construction of a brand new bridge with two lanes.

After a short break over the Christmas-New Year period, Waka Kotahi will be ramping up resealing of a large part of the highway network – about 10 percent of it, much of it in Otago and Southland.

“In many areas the wet early summer means more activity with road crews working nights as well as days, so please take care around these crews and keep alert for traffic management advice,” the agency said.

“If you are driving long distances around the South Island these summer holidays, add an hour to the usual journey time.”

Waka Kotahi said it was an unfortunate coincidence the summer holiday travel peaks coincided with the best time to resurface roads, “the warm temperatures and dry air help[ing] the new seal stick to the road surface”.

Waikato Expressway

The Waikato Expressway, north of Hamilton.
Photo: Supplied / NZTA

Aucklanders heading south of the Bombays over the break might want to try getting back to the big smoke a little earlier than usual. The northbound lanes around Drury, Papakura and Manurewa on Sunday, 8 January, will likely be packed – consider Saturday instead.

Predictions were “subject to change based on weather and other factors”, the agency said. If you’d rather not trust the modelling, Waka Kotahi also has a journey planner which takes into account real-time traffic information, road closures and other potential hiccups, like roadworks.

The official 2022 Christmas-New Year holiday road toll period begins 4pm on Friday, 23 December, and ends at 6am on Wednesday, 4 January. Last year, 17 lost their lives over the official holiday period – one of the worst figures in the past decade.

“Drive to the conditions, allow plenty of time and take regular breaks to stay alert,” the agency said.

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