Heavy traffic and bad weather hamper start to Queen's Birthday Weekend

Queen's Birthday Weekend is off to a poor start with heavy congestion slowing progress out of city centres. 

State Highway 1 north and south of Auckland are becoming clogged with thousands of motorists making their way out of the city for the long weekend.

Southbound will be blocked with cars from noon until 8pm, according to New Zealand Transport Agency.

Motorists are urged to expect delays.

Wellington highways are also predicted to be slow moving from 4pm on Friday through until 8pm.

With heavy rain battering Auckland as well as slow moving traffic, police and New Zealand Transport Agency are urging the public to take care on the roads.

Hail and heavy rain will batter the South Island, with Metservice forecasting snow for Invercargill. 

Police have issued a statement reminding motorists to be careful, as Queen's Birthday Weekend is one of the busiest ones in the year.

"With thousands of Kiwis heading out on long road journeys, police, the NZ transport agency and ACC are urging drivers to take care and be prepared for heavy traffic, delays and changeable weather conditions."

"If you're driving, stay alert, be patient and don't rush. The lives of you and your passengers are worth more than arriving a few minutes early," said national manager of road policing superintendent Steve Greally.

"More than 160 people have died on our roads this year. Tragically, many of those deaths could have been prevented," he said.

Greally says there are four simple measure drivers should take to ensure they reach their destination safely.

"Make sure everyone has their seatbelts on; remove distractions and stay focused on driving; don't get behind the wheel if you've been drinking or are tired; and drive at a safe speed for the conditions."

Anyone who is caught going more than 4 kilometres over the speed limit will be ticketed, says Greally.

"Our officers will still have discretion in how they deal with incidents and how they are enforced," he says.

Last year, 427 serious injuries claims were made to ACC due to crashes and driving incidents during Queen's Birthday Weekend.