Heading away Easter Weekend? Be prepared, enjoy a safe trip

Traffic will be heavy on highways out of Christchurch this Easter as people head off for an enjoyable four-day break. The NZ Transport Agency is asking drivers to plan ahead to avoid delays and have a safe trip.

Large numbers of motorists head away late Thursday, after school has finished, or early Good Friday, then return on Easter Monday.

'If people are aware where and when the highways are most congested and plan accordingly, it will help reduce stress for everyone on the road - drivers and passengers,' says Lee Wright, NZ Transport Agency Journey Manager Canterbury/ West Coast.

'Many people will be out of their well-known driving routes, so road courtesy and being patient will help keep stress levels down and increase safety for everyone.'

Areas and times where you can expect a slower journey

Check the HotSpots(external link) on the Transport Agency’s website, so you know where and at what times the roads have got congested previous Easter weekends.  Leaving earlier or later may help smooth out your journey and avoid the peak congested times.

  • State Highway 1 north of Christchurch: Heaviest traffic is from 4.30 to 6.00pm.
  • State Highway 1 south of Christchurch: Heaviest traffic is between 4 and 6 pm.

Anticipate some delays – Temuka River bridge, Upper Orari River bridge and Mingha Bluff

Motorists should face minimal delays from state highway road works, with no active work sites over the four day weekend in Canterbury and the West Coast.

There will be one set of lights in operation on State Highway 73 at Mingha Bluff on the road between Canterbury and the West Coast. In other places there will be speed restrictions, particularly if sealing has just been done, to avoid loose chip flying around.

State Highway 1 Temuka River bridge, north of Timaru, Thursday night, 24 March, from 8 pm to midnight the bridge will be down to one lane while work is completed.

People driving south to Warbirds Over Wanaka are expected to swell traffic volumes on Easter Friday and Monday on State Highway 79, the inland route from Rangitata to Geraldine.  Drivers should expect temporary traffic management near the Upper Orari River Bridge.

Do some jobs before you leave home

People can spread the load by doing a few jobs earlier in the week eg filling up with gas, checking tyres and the spare tyre. (See TWIRL list below.)

Help is at hand

  • For updates on state highway conditions and hazards phone 0800 4 HIGHWAYS 0800 44 44 49 or visit Summer Journeys for specific information(external link).
  • To report poor driving on the highway, phone the Police *555 once you are safely stopped.
  • To provide feedback on something you've noticed on the highways email info@nzta.govt.nz or call 0800 4 HIGHWAYS, 0800 44 44 49.

TWIRL vehicle check guide

“TWIRL” is one way to remind yourself of areas on your car to check:

Tyres; Windscreen, Wipers (and mirrors); Indicators; Rust and Lights.


Check the tyre tread depth (minimum legal depth 1.5mm, but more is safer), pressure (correct levels can usually be found on the inside door frame), and look for cracks or bubbles in the sides and sharp objects stuck in the tyres.

Windscreen, wipers and mirrors

Check the wiper blades for wear and tear, clean mirrors and windscreen inside and out, check your windscreen washer fluid is full and the spray is working.


Turn your hazard lights on and walk around the car to check indicators are flashing.


Look for obvious areas of corrosion that weaken a car’s strength in the event of a crash.


Check lenses are clean and not cracked or hazy, check headlights, reversing lights and brake lights.