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Easter exodus: Akl city to Bombay taking slow 1hr 24 minutes, SH1 closed after double fatal crash

Jaime Lyth,
Publish Date
Thu, 28 Mar 2024, 11:10AM

Easter exodus: Akl city to Bombay taking slow 1hr 24 minutes, SH1 closed after double fatal crash

Jaime Lyth,
Publish Date
Thu, 28 Mar 2024, 11:10AM
  • Truck fire on Southern Motorway blocks lanes near Manukau, creates major delays
  • Double fatal crash closes SH1 in Marlborough, ferry passengers told to prepare for long detour
  • Traffic crawling across Auckland motorways with journeys taking three times longer than usual
  • Traffic expected to be heavy on motorways out of Auckland and Wellington until later tonight

Holidaymakers heading away early for the Easter break are facing major delays in both the North and South Islands after a double fatal crash in Marlborough and a truck fire in Auckland.

Those leaving Auckland on the Southern Motorway face a slow journey of one hour and 24 minutes with the journey time worsening in the past hour. In free-flowing conditions the same trip will take just 30 minutes.

For travellers heading to the airport from the North Shore the journey is now taking 52 minutes, more than double the usual time.

Earlier motorists travelling on Auckland’s Southern Motorway were asked to consider delaying travel or using an alternate route after a truck caught fire around 11.30am.

The lanes are now clear but NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi warned motorists to expect delays.

Meanwhile, drivers travelling between Blenheim and Christchurch can expect lengthy delays following a double fatal crash on SH1 south of Ward just after 11am. Two others were taken to hospital with moderate injuries. The road is closed at the crash site and there are no detours.

Those travelling to Picton to catch the ferry across Cook Strait are being advised to factor this into their travel plans.

Police earlier warned motorists they are taking a “firm approach” to unsafe driving over the Easter period.

NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi says those heading south past the Bombay Hills will hit busier-than-usual traffic from 10.30am and this would not ease off until 9pm.

Motorists were likely to encounter the worst gridlock at lunchtime.

Those heading north out of the city were likely to encounter heavy traffic from 3pm until 6pm.

Serious crash: SH1, Kekerengu

Emergency services are at the scene of a serious two-vehicle collision on SH1, Kekerenrengu.

Police were notified at 10.56am in the South Island town halfway between Blenheim and Kaikōura

The road is due to be closed near Kekerengu Rd, motorists are asked to avoid the area.

Director of road policing Superintendent Steve Greally said the nation had a disappointing start to the year on our roads, and preventing unsafe behaviour reduces the trauma and devastation road accidents can cause.

“Our officers will be out patrolling roads throughout Aotearoa over Easter weekend and will follow through the appropriate enforcement action if drivers and riders are deemed to be risking the safety of themselves and others.

“It’s a serious stance we are taking to ensure we don’t see more lives lost on our roads.”

There has been an improvement to date in rates of deaths and serious injuries over February and March, but Greally said we can do better.

“It takes a second to either put your seatbelt on, share an Uber home or have a sober driver on hand, decide to leave that text or call alone, and slow down on any road.

“Any of these will improve the chances of you arriving at your destination safely.”

Greally urged drivers to consider the safety of others and their own when getting behind the wheel.

“Those split-second decisions when driving can put a life in the balance that’s why it’s important not to overlook them whenever or wherever you’re travelling.

NZTA-Waka Kotahi regional manager Mark Owen warned drivers to be careful over the long weekend. Photo / NZMENZTA-Waka Kotahi regional manager Mark Owen warned drivers to be careful over the long weekend. Photo / NZME

The stretch of SH1 over the Brynderwyn Hills, which has been closed since late February for critical restoration work, has been reopened until midnight Tuesday to cater for holiday traffic.

Holidaymakers heading out of the capital were also expected to encounter heavy traffic north of Otaki and the Remutaka Hill Rd from 4pm.

Those putting off leaving Auckland today would likely encounter even heavier traffic on Auckland’s southern motorways with predictions of heavy traffic starting at 7.30am and not easing off until 3pm.

The worst period of travel southbound between Manukau to Bombay was expected between 9am and 2pm.

It comes as thousands of travellers leave Auckland Airport today bound for holiday destinations in what will be the airport’s busiest day of the break.

Some 54,000 passengers were expected to fly out from Auckland today on Air New Zealand flights.

Waka Kotahi encouraged drivers heading away for the long weekend to “take some simple steps to ensure they get where they’re going safely”.

NZTA regional manager Mark Owen warned drivers to be careful over the long weekend.

“Too often, the holiday period is marked by people being killed or seriously injured on our roads. Road crashes are far too frequent, yet they can be prevented.

“No one likes being stuck in traffic, but it is far better to arrive late than not arrive at all.”

He also urged drivers to ensure they’re rested and to take breaks if they’re making a long trip.

“Driver fatigue is a real danger. One small moment of inattention can have devastating consequences. Drive safe, drive alert.”

Owen recommends people time their travel to avoid peak periods.

“That will make your trip more pleasant and help reduce delays during peak travel times. The NZTA holiday journey planner has all the details on when highways are expected to be busy. Please check it out and use it to plan your trip.”

Transport Minister Simeon Brown said enforcement agencies will be taking a zero-tolerance approach to road users putting themselves and others at risk.

“Stick to the speed limit, don’t drink or take drugs and drive, ensure you are well rested, and plan your journey ahead of time.”

SH1 - between Puhoi and Wellsford 


Traffic will be its heaviest in the afternoon on Thursday from 2.30pm until 6pm. 

Roads will be busy from 8am until 4.30pm on Friday. 

Traffic is expected to be free-flowing for those heading southbound on Thursday and Friday. 

SH1 - Manukau to Bombay 


Those beginning their travel on Thursday can expect roads to be busy between 3pm and 6pm. 

Traffic will be busy for extended periods on Saturday, between 10am and 6pm. 


On Thursday traffic will be heaviest between 11am and 1pm, but busy until 9pm. 

Those travelling on Friday might want to leave in the afternoon as traffic is heaviest between 9am and 2pm. 

SH2 - Remutaka Hill between Wellington and Featherston 


Traffic congestion is expected in and out of Wellington in the lead-up to the holiday weekend. 

Wellingtonians will be hitting the road in droves between 4pm and 5pm on Thursday. 

Friday will be busy with heavy traffic from 9.30am and 1.30pm. 

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