Queen’s Birthday advice for South Island drivers


The NZ Transport Agency encourages people in the South Island who are heading away for the long weekend, to plan ahead to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.

“This is the last long weekend for a few months and the last one before winter really sets in, so many people take the opportunity to head away for a break, or to visit friends and family,” Transport Agency Senior Journey Manager Neil Walker says.

“Going online to plan your journey before getting on the road reduces the chance of experiencing delays during high traffic flows on the highways. Our online real-time highway information service(external link) will tell you whether there are any travel warnings or closures ahead. Or use our Journey Planner(external link). You can also check out the traffic cameras around the South Island here(external link).”

The Transport Agency has set up a traffic hot spot map, showing the areas which are the traditional long weekend congestion points, as well as predicted peak times: www.nzta.govt.nz/hotspots

The South Island has a number of potential hotspots:


SH1 – Timaru

SH7 – Lewis Pass between Picton and Christchurch

SH1 – Waipara (North of Christchurch)

SH1 – through Waimakariri District

SH79 – near Geraldine

SH73 – Arthur's Pass route to the West Coast

SH1 – Kaikōura – one lane traffic on both sides of Kaikōura

SH1 – south of Christchurch to Ashburton SH1 – Timaru


SH6 – Nelson to Blenheim

SH6 – via Murchison

SH63 – St Arnaud


SH6 – Queenstown

Bear in mind localised events and winter conditions

  • Allow extra time as weather and road conditions can change in a relatively short period of time at this time of year.
  • Make sure your vehicle is ready for winter driving and stocked with food, water and blankets in case of any delays.

Central Otago drivers: The Brass Monkey Rally, Idaburn Dam, Oturehua: Please take care whether you are in a car or on a motorbike with many more motorcyclists using the highways leading to and from Idaburn Dam this long weekend. www.brassmonkeyrally.org.nz/#TOC-All-about-The-Rally(external link)

Christchurch drivers and travellers Sunday, 3 June – ASB Christchurch Marathon: www.journeys.nzta.govt.nz/canterbury/traffic-update/700280(external link)

Top tips for a safe and enjoyable Queen’s Birthday trip

Plan ahead
Get your vehicle checked before you head out, plan to avoid peak traffic where you can and give yourself enough time to take plenty of rest or sightseeing breaks along the way.  It’s your holiday after all, so why not make the journey an enjoyable part of it?

Drive to the conditions
This isn’t just about weather conditions—it’s about the road you’re on, the traffic, your vehicle and load, your speed, your following distance, and adjusting your driving for wet and windy conditions. 

Watch out for fatigue
Long trips are tiring and fatigue can be deadly behind the wheel. Get a good night’s sleep beforehand, plan in advance where you’ll take breaks along the way, and be aware of any medication you’re taking that might affect your driving.

Keep your cool
Holiday driving can be frustrating with busy roads, and restless kids in the car. So please, be courteous and patient.  Don’t get provoked by other drivers’ aggressive behaviour, and wait to overtake until you get to a passing lane or can see enough clear road ahead of you to do it safely.  And be sure to take enough games, books, DVDs or electronics to keep the kids occupied along the way.

Buckle up
Don’t let your family holiday be marred by tragedy simply because someone didn’t buckle up. If you’re the driver, you are legally responsible for making sure all passengers under the age of 15 are securely restrained with either a safety belt or child restraint.  Children must be properly restrained by an approved child restraint until their 7th birthday.

Don’t drink and drive
The alcohol limit for adult drivers is now lower, and your judgement and reaction times begin to deteriorate after even one drink. Keep it simple – if you’re going to drink, don’t drive.

For more information

Check the latest weather conditions and warnings here:

Motorists can get real time information from:

Follow the Transport Agency South Island updates on social media: