Northern Bass motorists be warned: Traffic chaos expected north of Auckland

Horrific gridlock traffic is stopping motorists in their tracks as they attempt to leave Auckland on Sunday.

Johnstone's Hill Tunnel near Pūhoi on State Highway 1 was jammed with cars on Saturday as holiday goers left Auckland heading north, and Sunday isn't much better.

The New Zealand Transport Agency's (NZTA) holiday journey tracker shows State High 1 between Puhoi and Wellsford will have heavy traffic between 8:30am and 4:30pm on the northbound route.

On Sunday morning, people were already sharing news on the Warkworth and Districts Traffic Updates Facebook page. While most users reported the traffic was flowing well, they said the roads were still busy.

"Just got to Wellsford from the airport. No blockages anywhere but was getting a bit more congested," said one person just before 9am.

But as the day goes on, more images are emerging of the gridlock traffic.

"Starting to back up now," said one person.

"Traffic building now at the tunnel. It’s moving but at a slower rate."

The traffic was "crawling" in Wellsford.
The traffic was "crawling" in Wellsford. Photo credit: Rachael Upton.

The Northern Bass music festival in Mangawhai will likely contribute to some of the traffic. The R18 three-day event runs between December 29 and December 31 and hosts hundreds of partygoers.

Going south out of Auckland will be better, however, with the heaviest traffic only expected to be between 9am and 12pm. 

Heading along State Highway 2 over the Remutaka Hills will be busy between 9:30am and 1pm, while the State Highway 1 Kapiti Coast route will have its heaviest traffic between 9am and 2:30pm. 

Motorists leaving Christchurch should also prepare for traffic, with the roads expected to be at their worst between 9:30am and 5pm near Waimakariri.