23 Dec 2016

Holiday traffic building

4:43 pm on 23 December 2016

The holiday exodus around New Zealand's major centres is starting to pick up, as holidaymakers take to the roads.

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Traffic is building around the major centres. Photo: RNZ / Veronica Schmidt

In Auckland, the Southern Motorway was blocked in two lanes on the southbound side near Greenlane, and a truck and van also collided near Auckland's largest mall, blocking both lanes on the Southeastern Highway.

Police said the van changed lanes, hit the truck and then flipped over the barrier onto the westbound lane, just before 1pm.

Both sides of the Southeastern Highway on the Panmure side of Sylvia Park are blocked and people should expect delays.

A spokesman said the crash led to numerous nose to tail crashes in the east bound lane.

The driver of the van had minor injuries.

A short time ago, NZTA said the southern motorway was now moving freely, from the CBD through to Manukau.

To the north, traffic was busy through Warkworth - a traditional holiday traffic hotspot.

The Terrace Tunnel in Wellingotn was closed after a van rolled in it.

The Terrace Tunnel in Wellington was closed after a van rolled in it. Photo: Facebook: Ash Moor

In Wellington, the Terrace Tunnel has fully reopened following a crash earlier today in which two people were injured, but a later breakdown blocked the left northbound lane, before it was cleared shortly before 3pm.

Traffic was also heavy near Newlands after a crash there.

In Christchurch, traffic was flowing freely, although some streets in the city - such as Blenheim Road and Manchester Street - were starting to get busy.

With wet weather across much of the country today, police have warned motorists to take extra care as they head away for the holidays.

Rain is predicted for many areas and roadworks are expected to affect traffic flow in both the North and South islands.

Police will be enforcing a lower speed threshold, boosting their numbers on the roads and fining any driver who travels more than 4km/hour over the limit.

National road policing manager Steve Greally said the usual holiday hotspots would be particularly demanding areas.

"Heading out to the Coromandel is a big one, heading down to Taupō, all these places are very, very busy.

"Even out of Wellington, when we've got road works around the Raumati areas and Paraparaumu."

He said all motorists needed to stay patient, not drive so fast, and accept their trip would take a little longer than usual.

South Island delays

Motorists travelling in the upper South Island over the Christmas holidays have also been warned to be prepared for delays, with most of the main road between Christchurch and Blenheim still out of action due to earthquake damage.

NZTA said State Highway 7 through the Lewis Pass, which was acting as an alternative State Highway 1, will be particularly busy with extra traffic.

It said the road was expected to be busiest today; from Boxing Day to 30 December; and from 2 January to the 4th.

Senior Sergeant Philip Dean said police were not telling drivers to avoid these busy periods, but he said motorists would need to be even more patient than usual and pay extra care to their following distances.

"Particularly on the alternative state highway, the road may be unfamiliar and it is a longer, more tiring journey," said Mr Dean.

Kaikōura can now be accessed from the south through State Highway 1 and the inland road, however State Highway 1 is only open from 6am to 8pm.

State Highway 1 north of Kaikōura is expected to be closed for up to a year.