Care needed as winter sets in at Queen’s Birthday weekend

By: NZ Transport Agency – Auckland/Northland Regional Offices

Aucklanders and Northlanders heading away for Queen’s Birthday are being advised by the NZ Transport Agency of the need for extra care during a long weekend marking the official start of winter.

Care needed as winter sets in at Queen’s Birthday weekend
Care needed as winter sets in at Queen’s Birthday weekend

"With shorter days and more unpredictable weather, vehicles need to be winter fit and drivers should allow plenty of extra time to reach their destinations safely," says the NZTA's Regional Director for Auckland and Northland, Stephen Town. "If driving conditions are difficult, increase following distances and drop your speed 10ks below the legal limit. If there is a crash, the speed you're driving will determine the severity of that crash."

State highway traffic is expected to be heavier than normal during the weekend. The number of vehicles using the Northern Gateway Toll Road on State Highway 1 north of Auckland on the Friday before last Queen's Birthday was 18,340 – almost 2000 more than a normal Friday vehicle count of 16499. The Saturday count was 17677 (15312 on a normal Saturday) and 16713 (12505) on Queen's Birthday Monday

In the past five Queen's Birthday weekends, a total of 172 people have been injured or killed in crashes on state highways and other roads in Northland and Auckland (Northland 1 fatality, 8 serious injuries, 11 minor injuries; Auckland 1 fatality, 23 serious injuries, 128 minor injuries).

Mr Town says there are choices people can make to keep themselves and their families safe:

  • Give vehicles the BLT check before heading away – brakes, lights, tyres
  • Ensure everyone wears their safety belt
  • Allow plenty of time, stop for breaks and share the driving to avoid fatigue
  • Always expect the unexpected, especially on rural highways and roads
  • Be courteous, be patient, give others plenty of space.

Mr Town says the NZTA will be working with the Police and ACC to help keep all road users safe.

"This is the last holiday weekend until Labour Day in mid-spring and our priority at the NZTA is to ensure that highways and roads during Queen's Birthday are safe for everyone," Mr Town says.

Queen's Birthday Weekend fact file

Fatigue stops

  • SH1 (Southern Motorway), BP Drury truck stop (heavy vehicles Thursday, 30 May, and light vehicles/cars Friday, 31 May).
  • SH1 (north bound): Pohuehue Scenic Reserve, south of Warkworth (2-6pm)

Northern Gateway Toll Road feedback

  • Toll fees: $2.20 for cars, light vehicles and motorcycles; $4.40 per trip for heavy vehicles
  • No surcharge applies for trips bought on-line at or when people open an account
  • Surcharges apply for trips bought at the kiosks (40c per transaction regardless of the number of trips bought) and from the call centre – free phone 0800 40 40 20 ($3.70 per transaction regardless of the number of trips bought)
  • Call centre open Queen's Birthday Monday (8am-8pm) for accounts and one-off transactions, closed Saturday and Sunday
  • People have up to 5 days to pay after using the toll road


  • A rural highway alternative between Wellsford and Auckland to avoid heavy traffic on SH1 Access from west Auckland and the Silverdale interchange on SH1

Travel information

  • Driving condition alerts for your route:
  • Highway conditions:
  • Northland highway/road conditions: free phone 0800 111 655 for more information
  • Holiday travel advice:

For the latest reviews, subscribe to our Deals On Wheels magazine here.

Keep up to date in the industry by signing up to Deals on Wheels' free newsletter or liking us on Facebook