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Plan ahead to avoid holiday travel delays

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The NZ Transport Agency is urging drivers heading north from Auckland this Christmas to plan ahead to avoid expected delays as traffic volumes on SH1 jump almost 50% during peak travel times.

The NZ Transport Agency is urging drivers heading north from Auckland this Christmas to plan ahead to avoid expected delays as traffic volumes on SH1 jump almost 50% during peak travel times.

Traffic flows, to and from Northland,  will be heavy throughout Christmas and New Year, said the NZTA’s Regional Director for Auckland and Northland, Wayne McDonald. 

Mr McDonald said there were several options to make journeys smoother and easier for people:

  • Pre-pay tolls on the Northern Gateway Toll Road
  • Use SH16 as an alternative to SH1
  • Avoid peak travel times

Historically, the holiday peak started mid-morning on 24 December and continued into the New Year.  Traffic volumes during the holidays were consistently heavy between 9am and 6pm every day.  

“Unlike a long weekend holiday break, there’s no such thing as a short-term peak at this time of year,” said Mr McDonald.  “We know from experience that there will be long delays at Warkworth in particular, and we want people to avoid queues if they can and plan their journeys before 9am or after 6pm.”

Traffic counts taken on SH1 just south of Warkworth over the holiday period last year showed traffic volumes close to 50% higher than normal, with up to 13,500 vehicles heading north daily. At the same time, many vehicles also head south towards Auckland. This could create an issue for northbound drivers trying to turn right to access the eastern beaches.
 
“People should always drive with patience and avoid taking chances when turning or overtaking,” Mr McDonald said.  “Driving with courtesy can keep traffic flowing smoothly and help ensure the roads remain safe.”

The NZTA will stop all road works on the state highway network over the Christmas/New Year period to help reduce congestion.  It is also urging people to consider using SH16 to Wellsford as an alternative to SH1. 

“It’s a less busy route and, importantly, by-passes traditional congested areas on SH1 around Warkworth, Mr McDonald said.

SH16 can be accessed from Northwestern Motorway through Helensville, or from the Silverdale interchange on SH1 just north of Auckland.

The Northern Gateway Toll Road on SH1 is also expected to be busy. The NZTA has introduced several changes to make it easier for people to pay on-line at www.tollroad.govt.nz(external link) or by freephone 0800 40 20 20.    
The changes include a simplified website, and the time people have to pay after using the toll road extended from three to five days.

“The manual kiosks will be very busy with queues likely,” Mr McDonald said.  “You don’t have to stop to use the toll road, and it’s faster to pay by phone or on-line.”

Mr McDonald said deciding to pay for holiday tolls now, or to use the SH16 alternative, or avoiding peak holiday travel times were important options that could help make Christmas journeys less of a worry.

“Roads will be busy and temperatures high.  Planning ahead will reduce the time people have to spend inside a car and will ensure that their holiday travel is smooth and safe,” Mr McDonald added.

For more information please contact:

Ewart Barnsley
Auckland Media Manager
NZ Transport Agency
T +64 9 3682142
M + 64 27 2137616
E ewart.barnsley@nzta.govt.nz

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