Caution urged on wet Easter roads

03:22, Apr 17 2014
Pre-Easter storms batters North Island
Chris Andrew's garden shed, which didn't quite make it through the storm.
Pre-Easter storms batters North Island
Chris Andrew's garden shed, which didn't quite make it through the storm.
Pre-Easter storms batters North Island
A slip on Oriental Bay in Wellington.
Pre-Easter storms batters North Island
A slip on Oriental Bay in Wellington.
Pre-Easter storms batters North Island
The storm batters Tamaki Drive in Auckland.
Pre-Easter storms batters North Island
The storm batters Tamaki Drive in Auckland.
Pre-Easter storms batters North Island
The storm batters Tamaki Drive in Auckland.
Pre-Easter storms batters North Island
A slip on Nottingham Street in Wellington.
Pre-Easter storms batters North Island
A small yacht crashing against the rocks in Auckland's Mechanics Bay.
Pre-Easter storms batters North Island
The storm batters Tamaki Drive in Auckland.
Pre-Easter storms batters North Island
The storm batters Tamaki Drive in Auckland.
Pre-Easter storms batters North Island
The storm batters Tamaki Drive in Auckland.
Pre-Easter storms batters North Island
Westhaven Drive, under Auckland Harbour Bridge.
Pre-Easter storms batters North Island
Orewa is battered.
Pre-Easter storms batters North Island
Orewa is battered.
Pre-Easter storms batters North Island
A roof makes its way across Whangaparaoa Road.
Pre-Easter storms batters North Island
A roof makes its way across Whangaparaoa Road.
Pre-Easter storms batters North Island
Kelly Tarlton’s receives a bit more water than usual.
Pre-Easter storms batters North Island
Auckland's Mission Bay is a wipe out.
Wild weather, Waihi
A sea wall at Waihi is battered by the surf as Cyclone Ita's tail strikes New Zealand.
Pre-Easter storms batters North Island
New Zealand at 11am, almost completely covered.
Wild weather, Waihi
A truck is overturned by Cyclone Ita's tail.
Wild weather, Waihi
Water laps on to sections in lower Kohimarama Rd, more than 100m from Waitemata Harbour.
Wild weather, Waihi
The sea laps at Tamaki Drive, Kohimarama.
Wild weather, Waihi
The roof seems to have come from this nearby home.
Wild weather, Waihi
A fallen tree in Stanley Bay, Auckland.
Wild weather, Waihi
Flooding on Tamaki Drive.
Wild weather, Waihi
A creek in Picton runs particularly high.
Wild weather, Waihi
A launch washed ashore on Algies Bay, Auckland.
Wild weather, Waihi
A blown over truck north of Whataroa.
Wild weather, Waihi
A boat runs aground in Auckland.
Wild weather, Waihi
A collapsed Burger King sign in Tauranga.
Wild weather, Waihi
Storm damage in Thornton, Whakatane.
Wild weather, Waihi
A fallen tree near Westport's Victoria Square.
Wild weather, Waihi
An escaped trampoline.
Wild weather, Waihi
A roofless home in Greymouth.
Flooding from Cyclone Ita
Flooding on the Hikuai-Whitianga road, Coromandel.
Pre-Easter storm
BIG WET: Wharawhara Road, south of Katikati, during the peak high tide on Thursday.
Pre-Easter storm
BIG WET: Wharawhara Road, south of Katikati, during the peak high tide on Thursday.
Pre-easter storm
BIG WET: Wharawhara Road, south of Katikati, during the peak high tide on Thursday.
Pre-Easter storm
OVER AND OUT: A tree down in Tauranga.
Pre-Easter storm
LIKE DOMINOES: Containers tumbled at the Port of Tauranga.
Easter storm
This trampoline ended up a bit mangled.
weather Hari Hari
A family home in Hari Hari
Flood Western BOP
Flooding in Western Bay of Plenty
Rata Street, Nelson
Rata Street, Nelson
Albie
Entrance to Westport's O'Connor Home - a rest home.
Albie
Trees down on the Esplanade beside the Buller bridge in Westport.
Albie
Massive trees tumbled across the entrance to this Westport home.
Destroyed Greymouth plane hangars
WINGS CLIPPED: A private plane suffered some damage after hangars at Greymouth Airport were destroyed in the storm.
Destroyed Greymouth Airport hangar
BIG CLEAN-UP AHEAD: Private plane hangers at Greymouth Airport were completely destroyed in raging winds on the West Coast.
Mark Bright
The top of Canterbury Street in Lyttelton floods yet again after Cyclone Ita hits the country.
Mark Bright
The Greymouth Municipal Band hall in Blaketown was completely destroyed in yesterday's storm. Band members and their children headed there today to try to salvage instruments.
Mark Bright
The Greymouth Municipal Band hall in Blaketown was completely destroyed in yesterday's storm. Band members and their children headed there today to try to salvage instruments.
Mark Bright
Blaketown resident Richard Rowse, 83, has never seen anything like yesterday's storm in his 64 years in his home.
Storm - Oamaru submerged car rescue
Sergeant Peter Muldrew with the rescued woman in the bucket of a digger driven by farmer Robert Borst.

Transport officials are warning drivers to be careful on sodden roads as they head away for their Easter break today.

New Zealand Transport Agency central media manager Anthony Frith said the country's road network was "sodden from head to toe" and people should be especially careful.

He said a quick check online could save time and keep everyone safer.

"Double following distances, reduce speed, really being careful on corners."

Automobile Association spokesman Mike Noon said if "if it has been raining, your car will take longer to stop and have less grip on the road".

"Visibility will also be reduced, and we know that one of the most common causes of crashes is people failing to see something or someone else on the road.

"The key things drivers need to be doing in wet weather is to increase their following distance, use their headlights on dip during the day and slow their speed to adjust to the conditions."

Motorists should also ensure their tyres are safe before heading away'

"A tyre without much tread on it will have less grip in the wet and increase your braking distance. Check your tread depth and if you have a wheel near the 1.5mm legal minimum you want to look at replacing it," Noon added.

Click here for the latest road conditions from the New Zealand Transport Agency.

The poor weather has already closed several roads around the country.

Tamaki Drive in Auckland has been closed by flooding while in the Waikato, trees blown down by the strong easterly winds have closed State highway 29 at the bottom of the Kaimai Range and in Benneydale on SH30 in the King Country.

Early-morning motorists on State Highway 3 were delayed by debris on the road, but the Manawatu Gorge was cleared in time for the Easter weekend traffic.

Drivers were also warned to take care with high winds a hazard on the Desert Rd and State Highways 56 and 57.

In parts of the South Island, gales and rain are also causing road debris.

Lee Wright, NZTA duty manager for Canterbury and the West Coast, said South Island roads were open but road users should plan their journeys in advance, be patient, and drive to the conditions.

As of this morning, NZTA issued area warnings for SH1 Blenheim to Kaikoura due to strong winds, on the West Coast SH 6 Haast to Makarora where there was danger of rock fall, and also Haast to Harihari where there were strong winds.

Gales on the West Coast, particularly in Westport, have toppled trees and caused rockfalls.

''Contractors are driving the roads all the time and they pick things up quickly.''

She said people travelling out of town should aim to leave as early as possible to avoid the after-work rush.

''It's really, really important that people are patient.''

Motorists have also been advised that during peak travel times today and tomorrow, Wellington's SH1 northbound passing lanes north of Te Horo, as well as the southbound passing lane, north of Otaki, would be closed.

They would be reopened when traffic eases.

"We only have one lane in each direction north of Wellington. Closing passing lanes makes traffic flow better," Frith said.

There would also be passing lane closures over Anzac weekend.

Motorists could expect 50 per cent more traffic today than normal, he said.

NZTA top tips for driving safely during the Easter break:

Plan ahead. Get your vehicle checked before you head out, plan to avoid peak traffic where you can and give yourself enough time to take plenty of rest or sightseeing breaks along the way.

Drive to the conditions. This isn't just about weather conditions-it's about the road you're on, the traffic, your vehicle and load, your speed, and even you as a driver (for example being tired or on medication that might affect your driving).

Watch out for fatigue. Long trips are tiring and fatigue can be deadly behind the wheel. Get a good night's sleep beforehand, and plan in advance where you'll take breaks along the way.

Keep your cool. Holiday driving can be frustrating with busy roads and restless kids in the car. So please, be courteous and patient while on the roads.

Buckle up. Don't let your family holiday be marred by tragedy simply because someone didn't buckle up. If you're the driver you are legally responsible for making sure all passengers under the age of 15 are securely restrained with either a safety belt or child restraint.  And remember that the laws about child restraints changed on 1 November, so children must be properly restrained by an approved child restraint until their 7th birthday.

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