23 Dec 2019

Christmas traffic: Last minute shoppers expected to clog roads

2:59 pm on 23 December 2019

Christmas holiday road traffic is heating up, with the worst delays around the main centres.

Taffic jam on highway during peak or rush hour.

Photo: 123RF

The Transport Agency said highway traffic was moving well, but it was expected to build around towns and cities as people did last-minute shopping and attended pre-Christmas events.

Its Wellington performance manager Mark Owen said holiday traffic volumes were governed by several factors including the weather, accidents and the day of the week on which Christmas fell.

"The roads are particularly busy around the urban areas at the moment, and that mixed with holiday traffic means it's busier across our highway network, around the country," Owen said.

He said the agency used a predictor tool to gauge where the traffic hotspots might be, at which time of the day.

"There are more and more cars on the road, so we know each holiday period is getting busier," Owen said.

Air travel was busiest on Friday, with the national carrier reporting more than 60,000 travellers heading away that day.

Air New Zealand's general manager for Auckland Airport Todd Grace said that was 20,000 more customers than last year's busiest day on the airline's network.

The airline's busiest route on Friday was Auckland to Christchurch.

Its cargo team will be sending more than a million kilograms of lamb to the United Kingdom over the Christmas period.

Fruit and vegetables were also in huge demand with 3.2 million kilograms of New Zealand capsicums and tomatoes heading to Japan and 1.9 million kilograms of blueberries, capsicums and tomatoes on the way to Australia during the summer months.

Air New Zealand global manager of cargo sales Alex Larsen, said the holiday season was one of the busiest times of year with New Zealand products in hot demand.

"Lamb is always hugely popular at this time of year in the UK, and cherries are also top of the list for many with more than 1 million kilograms of Central Otago cherries to be sent to Asia and the United States over the summer season," Larsen said.

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