Labour Weekend: there and back again safely in the South Island


Ahead of the three-day Labour Weekend, the NZ Transport Agency reminds travellers of a useful tool that shows predicted traffic flows at particular times, based on previous years’ travel patterns. It can be found at

"Holiday weekends are always busy across the South Island so congestion and delays are inevitable at peak times,” says NZ Transport Agency Journey Manager, Lee Wright.

“But if everyone leaves plenty of time for their trip, is patient and aims to enjoy the journey, then people can arrive at their destinations safely."

Because predicted peak times can change based on incidents (sometimes caused by crashes), weather and driver behaviour, we suggest that you check Traffic and travel information section of the NZ Transport Agency website before you leave for accurate information about current road and traffic conditions.

Most work sites will shut for long weekend

Transport Agency crews will be shutting down most active work sites by midday on Friday 19 October and keeping them closed until the following Tuesday at midday, 23 October, to ensure people have as few delays as possible.

Areas where longer-term road work sites with traffic signals or Stop/Go people controlling one-way traffic may cause short delays are on the Takaka Hill, SH60, along the West Coast’s SH6, SH1 Kaikōura and SH6 heading into Queenstown over the Shotover River.

Takaka Hill, SH60, route to Golden Bay

Several patches of the Takaka Hill on the Riwaka side are single lane because of huge slips caused by the February storms. People need to take their time and abide by the traffic signals.

West Coast, State Highway 6

February’s storms mean there are several places along SH6 at the Gates of Haast in South Westland and north of Greymouth at 17 Mile and Punakaiki/ Dolomite Point where the highway is reduced to a single lane with traffic lights controlling movements.

Kaikōura – single lane spots and Stop/Go remain

Although the North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery (NCTIR) team has done their best to reduce active work site delays along SH1 between Picton and Christchurch for the long weekend, a small number of Stop/Go spots remain to the north and south on the Hundalees.

Drivers also now have a safe stopping area at Ōhau Point north of Kaikōura, where they can view the coast and the seals. The peninsula in the town is another good place to watch seals at a safe distance.

Queenstown, Tucker Beach Road/ SH6 intersection near the Shotover River bridge

Work is currently underway at this intersection to make it safer with a temporary speed limit of 30 km/ hour around the work site and restricted turns into and out of Tucker Beach Road. Please read this media release for background:

Where else can I expect the highways to be busy?

The Transport Agency’s holiday journeys website(external link) shows the busiest areas through the South Island including:

  • SH1 through Kaikōura and North Canterbury, also south of Christchurch through Ashburton and Timaru,
  • SH7 through the Lewis Pass,
  • SH70 near Geraldine,
  • SH73 Arthur’s Pass route between Canterbury and the West Coast
  • SH6, between Nelson and Blenheim, and also through Murchison
  • SH63 St Arnaud
  • SH6 into and out of Queenstown and Wanaka. link)


  • Drive to the conditions, whether it’s the weather, the time of day or amount of traffic.
  • Take regular breaks to stay alert and ensure fatigue doesn’t affect your driving. Share the driving if you can.
  • Keep a safe following distance from vehicles in front so you can stop safely.
  • Be patient - overtaking is unlikely to make a significant difference to your journey time due to the amount of traffic expected over the weekend.
  • Allow plenty of time, remember you are on holiday and avoid the need to rush.
  • Check your car is safe, warranted, windwipers/lights are working and you have a spare tyre before you head off.

Drivers can get real time information from: