Traffic volumes using the Northern Gateway Toll Road are expected to rise dramatically during the Christmas/New Year holiday, and the NZ Transport Agency is reminding drivers that they can avoid delays from queuing at kiosks if they pay their tolls before or after they use the highway.
“Traffic volumes are typically 50 per cent higher over Christmas than on a normal working weekday with up to 13,500 vehicles heading north daily – the vast majority of them using the toll road on State Highway 1,” says the NZTA’s Regional Director for Auckland and Northland, Stephen Town.
The manual kiosks at the at the BP Service Centre at Dairy Flat and at Puhoi are already busy, and the number of people stopping to use them is expected to increase when schools and colleges close at the end of the week.
Mr Town says people can avoid unnecessary delays by using the NZTA’s on-line facility, www.tollroad.govt.nz(external link), or its freephone, 0800 402020 to pay for single or multiple trips, or open a pre-paid account with a balance as low as $20.
“An account is the easiest option if you plan on using the toll road more than once or twice,” says Mr Town. “You can ‘set and forget’ - your account credit never expires and it can be used throughout the year. You can also add the registration numbers of additional vehicles to a single account, so you can pay the tolls for your out of town holiday visitors.”
Mr Town said people buying casual tolls should also purchase their trips early, and in a single transaction. Tolls are valid for six months from the date of purchase.
The NZTA’s Contact Centre will be open everyday, except on Christmas Day, between 8.30am and 5pm throughout the holiday period. People can use the on-line option at anytime.
“We’re asking people to include paying for their tolls in their holiday plans just like checking the car’s warrant of fitness and registration, or your driver’s licence,” says Mr Town.
Five kiosks located on the approaches to the Northern Gateway Toll Road will be operating during the holidays for people who prefer to pay manually - three at Dairy Flat and two at Puhoi. The Dairy Flat kiosks will be busiest between 9am and midday, and between 1-4pm at Puhoi.
“At the holiday peak, we expect that all the machines will be in operation non-stop between 8am and 8pm,” adds Mr Town. “Even at a rate of one transaction a minute, queues are likely for those who choose to stop and pay at the kiosks.”
Mr Town also reminds all drivers that tolls can also be paid for up to five days after a trip on the road.
“You don’t have to stop to use the toll road - it’s faster to pay by phone or on-line using your toll road account.”
Tolls for each trip are set at $2 for cars and motor-cycles, and $4 for heavy vehicles.
For people who prefer not to use the toll road, there are two free alternative routes between Auckland and Northland. One is the along the Hibiscus Coast Highway [State Highway 17] through Silverdale, Orewa and Waiwera. The other route is State Highway 16 between Auckland and Wellsford. It can be accessed from the Silverdale interchange on SH1, or from the Northwestern Motorway and Helensville in west Auckland.