Predicted fine weather and the final long weekend of summer will contribute to heavy traffic volumes on Auckland's motorways this weekend, and the NZ Transport Agency is urging drivers to plan their journeys now to avoid possible delays.
“Auckland Anniversary Weekend is traditionally one of the busiest times of the year on the roads as people take advantage of the last break before the start of the new school year,” says the NZTA’s Regional Traffic Operations Manager, Kathryn Musgrave.
Traffic is expected to be particularly heavy on the Northern Motorway (State Highway 1) with people heading to the northern beaches and others going to a weekend-long air show at the North Shore air field.
“It is likely there will be queuing and congestion at the Greville Road, Oteha Valley Road and Silverdale interchanges,” says Ms Musgrave. “It is important that people are aware of the possibility of hold-ups, plan extra times for their journeys and plan ahead to decide on the best route before setting off to help ensure they reach their destination on time and safely. It will be hot sitting in the car, and people will need to be patient.”
There is no public parking at the airfield, and free shuttle buses will connect designated parking areas to the air show. People driving from the south should head for either the Albany Park and Ride bus station (Oteha Valley motorway exit) or Massey University - Number 1 Gate (Greville Road motorway exit). Visitors from the North should head to Metro Park in Silverdale. Disabled parking is available at the Albany Park and Ride, but spaces are limited. .
The NZTA will use electronic message signs to keep drivers informed of conditions ahead, and will be working with the Police to help keep traffic flowing as smoothly as possible.
People planning to use the Northern Gateway Toll Road on SH1 can prepay for their trips at www.tollroad.govt.nz(external link) or by freephone 0800 402020 (the call centre will be closed Saturday and Sunday but will be open Anniversary Monday 8am-8pm).
“Prepaying tolls enables people to get the best advantage from the toll road by not having to stop and wait at the manual payment kiosks. Tolls can also be paid anytime within five days of a trip on-line or by freephone,” Ms Musgrave says.
Drivers are reminded that they also have the choice of using SH16 between west Auckland and Silverdale and Wellsford as an alternative route between Northland and Auckland that avoids possible delays on SH1 north of Auckland.
In Waikato, the annual Parachute summer festival at Hamilton this weekend will attract a lot of young Aucklanders – many of them still gaining experience as licenced drivers. Route maps for the festival and safe driving information is available on www.safeteendriver.co.nz(external link).
"We have one message for all drivers this long weekend: even if it takes a little longer to get there, the important thing for everyone is to reach their destination safely. Please keep speeds down, be alert to any road works and take regular breaks on long journeys. The NZTA wants everyone to have a safe journey," Ms Musgrave says.
The NZTA’s website is regularly updated with information about most closures and detours at www.nzta.govt.nz/traffic(external link). This information is also available by phoning the NZTA’s free phone on 0800 4HIGHWAYS (0800 44 44 49), which can also be used to report any significant road issues or hazards which people may come across during their travels.