New Zealanders warned to prepare for return of rush-hour traffic on Monday

If you live in the city, there's a huge challenge before you even walk in the school gate or the doors at work on Monday.

It's the return of the daily commute and the slow crawl of bumper-to-bumper traffic. Here are a few tips on how to cope.

Prepare yourselves, Auckland. After seven weeks of mostly-empty streets, we're about to return to the daily traffic snarl.

As more workers head back to the city and schools resume tomorrow so too will rush-hour traffic.

"It's pretty horrific trying to get to school so the boys will probably walk to school and I'll walk with them then head in sometime after 10," one person told Newshub.

"I'll probably just go in early," another said.

During the level 4 lockdown, highway traffic was down to just 10 percent of normal volumes. That increased to 50 percent in level 3.

And in the first days of level 2 last week, traffic was up to 70 percent in Auckland and Wellington, 87 in Christchurch and 95 percent in Hamilton.

"During level 4 and level 3 we saw a very sharp reduction in traffic, that increased last week with the move to level 2 and we expect Monday and Tuesday to be busier again," NZTA spokesperson Andy Knackstedt told Newshub.

Morning rush-hour is expected to make its return to the big cities like Auckland and Wellington so drivers are being urged to change their travel times to avoid it.

"If it's an option, if you can stagger your trips so you're not travelling at peak time then you should certainly look at that," Knackstedt told Newshub.

With the return of rush-hour also comes the return of parking wardens. Under alert level 4 and 3, parking was free and time restrictions did not apply but now you'll have to pay.

That also means bus lanes, T2 and T3 lanes and clearways are now also being monitored.

Speed restrictions around schools will also be back. And if you're someone who uses public transport, capacity will be limited to meet social distancing requirements.

Though even that wasn't enough to entice regular bus users Newshub spoke to on Sunday.

"I would rather work from home in my crappy old chair and get a sore back rather than take a bus with someone that's potentially going to cough and sneeze somewhere," one told Newshub.

With so many more people out on the roads this week, police and the NZTA are reminding people to slow down, drive to the conditions, and to take extra care - particularly around schools.

Police say it's also a good time for parents to remind their kids about road safety, because after spending two months at home chances are they may be a bit more complacent when it comes to crossing roads.

The NZTA has also put a hold on most of its daytime maintenance and construction work on highways on Monday, to help ease congestion.

But traffic is still expected to be heavy so drivers are urged to travel at non-peak times where possible.