What to know before you hit the road this Christmas

car on New Zealand road getty
Mr Knackstedt warns drivers to take care these holidays (Getty)

The classic Kiwi summer roadie is an age-old tradition, with many heading off to the bach or visiting family this Christmas weekend.

But some are taking advantage of the sunny weather, getting out of the city early.

The NZTA says that while it’s great the holiday traffic will be spread over a longer period, Friday is still going to be incredibly busy.

"We're urging people to plan ahead, to try and avoid the busiest times and to just relax. Spread the load and make things easier for everyone," says spokesman Andy Knackstedt.

To help, the NZTA has put a kibosh on non-urgent roadworks "so we're not slowing people down more than necessary".

Mr Knackstedt warns that while they take actions that "at the time may seem a little counterintuitive", such as closing passing lanes on major roads, it actually allows the traffic to flow more freely. 

"So if you wonder, 'What are these jokers doing?', there's actually a reason for it."

The official holiday road toll begins Friday, 23 December at 4pm, and lasts until Wednesday, January 4, but Mr Knackstedt says drivers should stay vigilant even outside these dates.

"Any crash on the road at any time of the year, any death, is a tragedy."

The death toll for 2016 is slightly up on this time last year, with 311 killed on New Zealand roads so far in 2016, compared to 308 on this day in 2015.

"Those aren't just figures, those are real people. They have friends and family who are missing them terribly and we don't want to see that anymore."

NZTA has used data from past years to come up with a hotlist of 'holiday hotspots', which drivers can use to see the best time to buckle up and get on the road.