Labour Weekend travel tips for the South Island/Te Wai Pounamu


Heading away this long weekend? Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency has a handy way to make your travel safer and more enjoyable.

Use the Waka Kotahi holiday journey planner to check traffic predictions so you can nail your trip before you leave:

Waka Kotahi Holiday Journey Planner - Labour Day weekend(external link)

“The holiday journey planner shows predicted traffic conditions for popular routes over the Labour weekend period, based on travel patterns from previous years,” says Waka Kotahi Journey Manager Tresca Forrester.

  • Predicted peak times for travel may change based on traffic incidents, weather, driver behaviour, or changes in Covid-19 alert levels.
  • Visit the Journey Planner before you head off for the latest information on road works, road closures and delays.
    Journey Planner(external link)
  • Continue to keep track of where you’re going with the NZ COVID Tracer app and check the COVID-19 website for information on alert levels and travel before you head off. link)

As well as the peak busy patches on key highways in Queenstown Lakes District, Canterbury and Tasman/ Nelson/ Marlborough, there are also a few places where the state highway or local roads are reduced to a single lane, says Ms Forrester.

“Some of these are new projects and some are cleaning up after the recent winter storms in places like Craigieburn, on the Canterbury-West Coast’s SH73 and in Marlborough. Plus we can have changes at very short notice on routes like SH73, as has happened this week, so check our map first to avoid surprises.”

Single lanes


  • On SH6 between Murchison and O’Sullivan’s Bridge
  • SH60 Birds Hill just out of Tākaka heading towards Collingwood
  • SH60 Tākaka Hill itself.

All three sites have traffic signals to safely manage traffic flows.


  • Many roads across the Marlborough region, particularly heading into the Sounds and places like the Awatere Valley, are damaged from the significant storm in July with a major repair programme underway. For the current status of the local roads in the Marlborough area check this map.
    Marlborough CDEM Official Public Information Map(external link)

North Canterbury/ Arthur’s Pass

West Coast

  • SH6 Upper Buller Gorge, east of Westport
  • SH6 Meybille Bay, north of Punakaiki 

“We expect heavy traffic out of our urban centres this Friday and back home on Monday,” says Ms Forrester. “Please take extra care on the roads and check the weather forecasts before you leave and the Waka Kotahi traffic and travel page for any updates.

“We have done the best to minimise works in most places over the long weekend, but we ask all drivers to take extra care wherever you spot road cones and areas which have to remain single lane while work is ongoing.”

NZ Police have also sent out a reminder that motorists can play their part in keeping highways safe by reporting unsafe driving/  If you see any dangerous driving behaviour or immediate risks on the road when you are travelling, pull over at a safe place, phone 111 and report it to Police.

Otherwise, if you witness inconsiderate driving, or want to report a non-life threatening driving incident, once you are safely stopped, call 105 or go online: link)

Waka Kotahi crews will shut down most active work sites around the South Island/Te Wai Pounamu by midday on Friday 22 October.

Safe driving tips

  • Drive to the conditions, whether it’s the weather, the time of day or amount of traffic.
  • Take regular breaks to stay alert. 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.
  • Check your car is safe, warranted, windwipers/lights are working and you have a spare tyre inflated before you head off.
  • It’s spring so weather is notoriously changeable. Be prepared for hot and cold.

Drivers can get real time information

Plan ahead for a safe, enjoyable journey. Keep up to date with: