Anzac Day/end of school holidays travel advice for South Island drivers


With the school holidays winding down and Anzac Day Tuesday 25 April, people heading home are encouraged to build in plenty of time and drive rested, says Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency.

“We want everyone to get home safely,” says Waka Kotahi Journey Manager Tresca Forrester. “Holidays are when our highways, which are often relatively quiet in the South Island, get busy and people will strike delays at key pinch points and towns.”

While most road work sites will be closed down for Anzac Day there may be ongoing single lane areas of highway where roadwork is continuing either side of the break, she says.

MetService – orange warnings two places

The MetService currently has an orange heavy rain warning in place for the very top of the south in Golden Bay/ Mohua/ west of Motueka and south of Hokitika to Bruce Bay in Westland. This is forecast to start later tonight in the south, moving into the weekend over the top of the island.

The area in between including Buller and Tasman/ Nelson has a heavy rain watch currently from Friday morning into the weekend.

Check for updates here: link)

Anzac Day parades

On Anzac Day morning some state highways in cities and towns will have detours in place for parades – these will be well signposted. 

Places where there is work underway keeping traffic to a single lane include: 

Canterbury north of Kaikōura: There is a single lane site north of Kaikōura on SH1 at Ōhau Point where a pile drilling rig takes up a lane, controlled by traffic signals 24/7.  Delays could be up to ten minutes or so at peak periods.

Canterbury towns, SH1 – Rolleston, Ashburton, Timaru: Traffic queues through several SH1 towns are to be expected at peak times in coming days. Aim to travel outside the peaks or use alternative routes north and south, says Ms Forrester.

Otago SH8, Beaumont Bridge: Contractors will be on site to help manage the holiday traffic as traffic is reduced to a single lane near the new bridge construction site.

Otago SH88, Port Chalmers highway: Maintenance work is ongoing along this highway with a number of one-way sections.

Southland SH6, Winton: There is a northbound road closure this weekend and on Anzac Day. Please build in extra time.

Keeping stress levels manageable

  • Check your vehicle is safe to drive – even if you did before you left for the holiday break. Check your tyres, wipers, lights, indicators, spare tyre.
  • Drive to the conditions - whether it’s the weather, the road you’re on, the time of day or the volume of traffic on the roads.
  • Make sure everyone does up their seat belt after a break outside the car.
  • Keep a safe following distance from vehicles in front so you can stop safely. Share the driving if possible.
  • People towing caravans and boats need to ensure their roadworthiness before attaching them to the tow bar. Stack heavy items toward the front to balance the load and remember the speed limit is 90k/h for towing vehicles. Pull over frequently and let queues pass when safe to do so.