4 Jan 2017

Holiday road toll ends at 19

11:44 am on 4 January 2017

Nineteen people died on New Zealand's roads over the Christmas holiday period this year - the highest holiday road toll in four years.

The holiday period, which began on 23 December, ended at 6am today.

Twelve people died on the roads in the 2015-2016 holiday period.

Police today named two people who died in separate crashes on New Year's Day.

Chloe Hope Hartigan, 17, of Karikari Peninsula, was killed when she was struck by a car in Taipa, in the early hours of 1 January.

Gregory Mark Walsh, a 50-year-old truck driver from Papamoa, died after his vehicle rolled in Whakatane.

Police said middle-aged men, who had bought high-powered motorbikes and crashed as they overtook or turned a corner, were a growing part of the road toll.

Police Assistant Commissioner Dave Cliff said the upward trend in road deaths and serious injuries began in 2013, after 30 years of declines.

He said people going back into motorbiking should take a safety course.

Also among those who died this year were two 15-year-old boys and a 15-year-old girl, who were in a car that rolled in Leeston, Canterbury, early on Boxing Day.

Three others died after a bus carrying 46 people crashed down a bank near Gisborne on Christmas Eve.

The bus was full of students and supporters from a college in Tonga, who were on a fund-raising tour.

The provisional toll for the whole of 2016 is 327, eight more than in 2015.

Congestion warning

Meanwhile, motorists around the country are being advised to expect delays - and be patient - as the official holiday period comes to a close today.

The NZ Transport Agency said people should expect heavy traffic and congestion as holidaymakers travelled home.

Spokesperson Andy Knackstedt said traffic would be particularly heavy on highways heading into Auckland and Wellington, as well as those around Christchurch.

He said people needed to know that their journeys could take longer than usual, and they needed to be patient.

"Everybody else that is sharing the road with you will be in the same boat, and again, it really does pay to plan ahead and have a look on the NZTA website for the very latest conditions, and if you are able to adjust your plans or leave a little bit earlier or later, then that could make a difference."