This time last year holidaymakers were praying for an All Black win in the Rugby World Cup - this year they are praying to the weather gods in the hope of seeing some much needed sunshine.
But it's unlikely.
A dismal forecast looks set to put a dampener on most Labour Weekend activities in the Waikato and it's also got the region's police worried, after two fatal collisions during Thursday night's wet weather.
The deaths mean Waikato now has the worst regional road toll in the country this year with 34 people having died in 31 crashes, two more than the Central District.
Waikato district road policing manager Inspector Leo Tooman said initial indications were that speed was a factor in both crashes.
A 42-year-old Auckland man was killed in a crash in Waring Rd, Taupiri, just before 6pm.
"It appears his silver Porsche Boxster convertible car has been travelling at speed when it has left the road, gone down a bank and crashed through a number of trees before coming to rest in a paddock. The man died at the scene."
Meanwhile, police are investigating whether reports of cars racing on Ohaupo Rd are linked to a fatal crash there about 6.22pm. Police received a 111 call shortly before the crash saying two cars, one fitting the description of the crashed car, were being driven at "high speed" towards Ohaupo.
A 32-year-old passenger died in that crash.
Mr Tooman urged people to take care on the roads this long weekend.
"We want people out on Waikato roads to drive to survive and avoiding excessive speed will play a major part in this," he said.
"People need to remember that with wet roads they need to increase stopping distances and drive to conditions."
And Waikato police will have a new tool at their disposal to keep an eye on drivers - a bright red patrol car designed to remind drivers of the need to take care on the region's roads.
"It's the feedback we get [about the car] from the travelling public," he said. "People are always on the lookout for the marked white car, so when they see the red car with lights and signage it takes them back a bit. "It also starts a conversation and conversation means road safety - so hopefully we're onto a winner."
Around the country police will be conducting mobile and stationary patrols where every driver stopped will be breath-tested. They will also focus on slow drivers who may be impeding the flow of traffic, causing other drivers to become impatient.
The NZ Transport Agency is also getting behind driver awareness campaigns reminding drivers on the road between Auckland and Coromandel of the 90kmh speed limit on State Highway 2 between the interchange near Pokeno and Mangatarata.
Waikato-Bay of Plenty State Highway manager Kaye Clark said if necessary, NZTA would look at closing passing lanes on State Highway 2.
"During peak travel periods such as the Labour Weekend holiday break, closing passing lanes helps traffic flow more smoothly and improves safety for motorists," Mrs Clark said.
"The lanes will be appropriately signposted."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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