Holiday Hotspots, tips for enjoyable journeys Otago and Southland


You might not be able to alter where you are driving these holidays but you can tweak your leaving times to avoid the busiest times to get there.

The NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi Holiday Journeys prediction tool shows likely traffic flow across key journeys over the Christmas and New Year’s holiday, based on previous years’ travel patterns.

Otago’s busy routes

One place where there will be short delays in Otago is at the single lane Beaumont Bridge, SH8, controlled by traffic signals, inland from Milton and the entrance to Central Otago.  The delays are due to the construction of the new bridge near the existing bridge with separate approaches being built and a detour around the site.

Read the latest update

Heavy traffic is fairly predictable on SH8 between Alexandra and Cromwell and SH6 around Queenstown/ Wanaka, and also on the Southern Motorway, SH1, south of Dunedin, particularly in the lead-in to Christmas Day, says Nicole Felts, Journey Manager Otago and Southland.

Road crews down-tools period

Waka Kotahi road crews will be getting a break from midday today, Thursday, 22 December through to Wednesday, 4 January.

Otago and Southland significant resealing projects in the New Year

Expect short delays around these key sites, and more details in the New Year:

  • SH94 Croydon rehabilitation, north of Gore – 9 January into February
  • SH6 Kidd Creek area rehabilitation, between Cromwell and Luggate – from 9 January for four weeks
  • SH6 Lorneville roundabout asphalt – February/March, one week
  • SH6 Winton asphalt – March, four weeks
  • SH88/Parry St East,  Dunedin, asphalt – March

Work in the New Year will ramp up – expect extended hours

Over the whole country, a record road renewal and resealing season is underway, October to March, covering 2450 lane kilometres, 10% or so of the total highway network. 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.

  • A friendly wave goes a long way at the end of a hot day on the highway.
  • If you are driving long distances around the South Island these summer holidays, add an hour to the usual journey time.

Why do you have to do it while everyone is on holiday?

Warmer spring and summer months are the best time for road resurfacing as daylight hours are longer and the warm temperatures and dry air help the new seal stick to the road surface. Unfortunately, this also coincides with holiday journeys.

Some regions have 70% or more of their programme to complete after Christmas. This will mean more roadworks than usual over the next few months, as teams work hard to complete their programmes.

These detours and full closures keep our crews safe and enable us to complete works to a high standard more efficiently.

The Waka Kotahi Journey Planner includes worksites, area warnings, traffic and travel updates, and state highway roadworks information.

Journey Planner website(external link)

Safety: Stick to the speed limits and be patient when driving through roadwork sites

  • We want to keep everyone safe when driving through roadwork sites, and that includes our road workers.  
  • Please slow down, leave space and be patient.

Speed and space

  • Keeping your speed down where sealing work is underway or has just been completed not only helps chip to settle in the new road surface, it will also prevent stone chips flying into windscreens and protect our crews from injuries.
  • Leave space, about two car lengths between you and the car in front.
  • There could be loose chip from a recent re-seal, workers underneath or on the side of the road.

Road surfaces in the heat

  • Roads can show signs of ‘bleeding seal’ or sticky surfaces when temperatures rise. This happens when the bitumen softens and rises above the chip seal road surface.
  • Dampening the road with water helps reduce the stickiness by cooling the surface temperature.

How to clean your car

  • If people do see spots of bitumen on their cars, this can be cleaned off with kerosene or baby oil.

Drive to the conditions, allow plenty of time and take regular breaks to stay alert

  • Be patient so everyone can relax and enjoy the time together.
  • Keep a safe following distance from vehicles in front so you can stop safely.
    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.
  • Take regular breaks, stay alert.
  • Check everyone is wearing their seat belt.
  • Allow plenty of time. You’re on holiday, no need to rush.

Vehicle safety

  • Your vehicle must be safe to drive before you set off on your summer holiday.

There are basic checks you can do yourself, including:

  • Tyres – minimum tread is 1.5mm but the more tread, the better the grip.
  • Lights – check lights work so your vehicle is visible in poor light.
  • Indicators – ensure all indicators work so people know which direction you are moving.
  • Windscreen and wipers – check for wear and tear.

For more information on self-checks (above), visit

  • The Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency Journey Planner tool helps you plan your trip with real-time travel information, traffic cameras, and updates on delays, roadworks and road closures.

Journey Planner website(external link)

  • Call 0800 4 HIGHWAYS (0800 44 44 49)