Labour Weekend highway tips: safe driving in the South Island


This Labour Weekend, the NZ Transport Agency encourages everyone heading off for a break to check the Labour Weekend Hotspots map.

The Hotspots maps (external link)collate information from previous Labour Weekend journeys on the times where traffic is heaviest. The Transport Agency advises people to consider avoiding travel during the times of heaviest congestion or at least be forewarned on what to expect.

“Increased traffic, tiredness and driving in unfamiliar environments can make driving over the long weekends stressful,” says the Transport Agency’s Journey Manager Tresca Forrester. “Remember you’re sharing the road with many others, you have a responsibility to be courteous and patient to ensure you look after yourself, your family and other road users.

“When traffic is heavy, a safe speed might be lower than the posted limit. We urge everyone to be patient, relax, and enjoy the journey.”

In Canterbury, Police are running Operation Drive Safe ahead of this Labour Weekend from Wednesday, 18 October through to Friday, 20 October. Senior Constable Brent Cosgrove says that as well as stopping speeding drivers, police might also be stopping people at checkpoints to share road safety messages and promotional material on safer driving.

NZ Transport Agency’s top tips for a safe Labour Weekend:

  • Wear your seat belt and check your passengers are belted up after every break.
  • Keep left of the centreline.
  • Take extreme care if overtaking - ensure you have plenty of room to pass safely. Alternately, if cars are banked up behind you, pull over at a safe spot and relieve the pressure. If you are following a slower vehicle, give them room and keep everyone’s stress levels down.
  • Take the time to check your vehicle is safe –tyres/ spare tyre, indicators, windshield wipers, lights – before you head away.
  • Stop for regular breaks on your journey.  Take a break and grab a free cookie from selected fuel stations - valid for Labour Weekend 2017 only.

Some examples of Hotspots:

The northern route out of Christchurch, SH1

  • Friday 4pm-7pm – heavy flows northbound
  • Mon – 2pm-6pm heavy flows southbound

SH1 Southern Corridor, Ashburton – Christchurch

  • Friday - 4pm-6pm – busy southbound
  • Mon – 2pm-6pm heavy northbound

Queenstown/ Frankton busy over Labour weekend

The Wakatipu Basin and the wider Frankton/ Queenstown area around the Kawarau Falls bridge and SH6 will be busy right through Labour Weekend. Please take your time.

Kaikoura access

  • State Highway 1 south of Kaikoura via Cheviot will reopen at midday on Friday for the Labour weekend traffic.
  • SH1 south of Kaikoura is otherwise open all Labour weekend Saturday to end of Monday, the extended hours, 7am - 8pm, (with an early opening Friday from midday.) Travel time three hours from Christchurch.
  • Route 70 via Waiau and Mt Lyford is the other way into Kaikoura, open 24/7 unless there are extreme weather events. Travel time three hours from Christchurch.

How to stay up to date

The key traffic and travel source which provides up-to-date information on weather and road conditions is link)

Important information is also shared via the Transport Agency’s official Twitter and Facebook accounts  (external link)

Drivers can also call 0800 4 HIGHWAYS (0800 44 44 49) to speak to the call centre team for traffic and travel information.

Link to the Labour Weekend holiday Hotspots for all of New Zealand(external link)