The holiday rush has begun across parts of the North Island as holidaymakers head away to begin their summer breaks.

Vehicles have clogged the highway heading to the Coromandel township of Tairua today. The transport agency has warned motorists heading northbound on SH25 to expect significant delays.

For motorists heading out of Auckland, Waka Kotahi expected traffic to be the heaviest
from 10am-3pm most days.

The busiest period in previous years over the holiday period had been between Christmas and New Year when more than 40,000 vehicles left the city each day to December 30.

Traffic had been crawling on State Highway 1 heading north from Auckland, and Waka Kotahi recommended drivers use the alternative SH16 route.

Waka Kotahi previously warned of heavy holiday traffic between SH1 between Silverdale and Wellsford, but the congestion has since eased.

In the South Island, Waka Kotahi warned that traffic is expected to be busy all day and every day on SH6 Queenstown until January 3.

Police are urging motorists to be safe and to not drink and drive after last Christmas and New Year period saw 971 crashes where 91 people were seriously injured and 11 people died.

Alcohol or drugs and speed were a factor in more than half of the crashes.

Assistant commissioner of deployment and road policing Bruce O’Brien said alcohol and/or drugs were a factor in about a third of all fatal crashes.

“If you are drinking, don’t drive. It’s that simple.”

Police: 'Stay safe in Whangamatā'

Meanwhile, as people prepare to usher in the New Year, Whangamatā Police issued a reminder to parents and caregivers to keep an eye on their young people after officers dished out almost 60 drinking fines in 90 minutes last night.

The fines were issued to young people who breached a liquor ban by drinking alcohol in Williamson Park.

Last New Year’s eve, teens mounted the roof of a Whangamatā cafe, throwing bottles at police and causing significant damage to the business. Twenty two people were arrested across Whangamatā as a result of the incident.

This year, Whangamatā Police said there would be a large and visible police presence in the area over the holiday period.

Police were working with the community and local alcohol retailers to ensure everyone could enjoy the celebrations safely and without incident.

Acting senior sergeant Terri Wilson said: “Our message to parents is to ensure that any alcohol provided is given and consumed in the home environment, and not to assume their children would not make poor decisions around alcohol.”

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