Here's how you can make life a bit easier and avoid the New Year traffic rush

Roads in Riccarton groaned with traffic before Christmas - soon, much of the South Island will share its congestion.
STACY SQUIRES

Roads in Riccarton groaned with traffic before Christmas - soon, much of the South Island will share its congestion.

If you're heading away during the holidays, it pays to plan ahead.

There's nothing worse than being stuck in traffic on your way to your destination, sitting in a hot car, kids (and adults) getting a tad grumpy.

Luckily, the New Zealand Transport Agency has some useful tips and real-time updates to make your roadie a little easier.

Holiday traffic on SH1 at the Otaihanga roundabout on the Kapiti Coast before Christmas.
NZTA

Holiday traffic on SH1 at the Otaihanga roundabout on the Kapiti Coast before Christmas.

The agency has a published series of maps, split into the north and east of the upper North Island, the lower North Island and the upper and lower South Island.

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Heavy traffic is no fun so plan your New Year journey accordingly.

Heavy traffic is no fun so plan your New Year journey accordingly.

Officials crunched a lot of data from previous holiday periods to pinpoint, as best as possible, the likely congestion hotspots and traffic patterns.

Congestion hotspots are, of course, subject to change but the maps are a handy way to gauge if the route you've chosen has been busy in previous years.

The maps compile traffic patterns by state highway, travel direction and date and the agency says congestion is likely to be similarly heavy this holiday season.

The best advice is to consider avoiding driving if you can. If you must drive, then plan your route accordingly.

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On NZTA's website, there is also detailed information on overnight motorway closures to January 16, specific information on travel times in and around Auckland, and traffic cameras for a quick snapshot of the roads.

Another useful tool is the agency's real-time traffic monitoring service On The Move, which plans and maps a chosen route with information on the likely congestion, road works and delays.

The agency also runs Summer Journeys, a travel information site with detailed information on road conditions, travel times and advice.

Data shows the worst traffic congestion tends to occur during the afternoons.

Traffic Operations Centre manager Rua Pani urged motorists to rise early and to put their safety first, saying crashes happened when people rushed and made "silly decisions".

"You'll often be travelling on roads you're unfamiliar with, so it's really important to drive as risk-free as possible.

"That means taking regular breaks, watching your speed, giving the vehicle in front of you plenty of room, and avoiding passing manoeuvres unless there's a passing lane or the coast is completely clear."

 - Stuff

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