Motorists have described abandoning their cars to play hacky sack or frisbee during traffic jams this afternoon in the central North Island.
Traffic slowed to a stop on State Highway 1 following a fatal crash at Ohingaiti, south of Taihape, about 1pm.
One of the hundreds of motorists affected by the delays, Campbell Masters, was making his way back to Wellington from a holiday in Raetihi when he found himself in a gridlock.
He barely moved for two hours, he said - and the long wait pushed some motorists to abandon their cars and find creative ways to kill time.
"There was some hacky sack, there were frisbees, there was a family having a picnic on the side of the road. Lots of people asking questions and wandering backwards and forwards between vehicles," he said.
"They haven't moved for a long time, so I guess they've just decided that, when traffic does start moving, it's not going to move fast enough for them to have to sprint."
The delays had been "frustrating and confusing" for many motorists, he said.
NZTA's operations manager for the Wellington region, Mark Owen, asked motorists to stay patient in these situations.
"Please be patient. If you can stop just to have a coffee or give the kids a break, rather than be stuck in the queue, then do, just to give things time to clear.
"I know it must be really hard when you're stuck and you're just crawling along but we want people to get to their destinations safely, even if you get there a bit later."
Another crash on SH1, south of Paekakariki, also caused delays, which had since eased.
Traffic through Otaki also came to a standstill this afternoon, with queues stretching more than 5km, but had returned to normal.
Travellers returning to Auckland were told peak traffic would continue until about 7pm.
In an update shortly before 6pm, NZTA said queues along SH1 and SH2 around Auckland and Northland had reduced from 7km to about 400m.