Canterbury, West Coast, Marlborough highway work: careful co-ordination in New Year


Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency road crews will be getting a break from today (Thursday, 22 December) through to Wednesday, 4 January 2023.

Looking into the New Year, maintenance, full road reconstruction and re-sealing on key highways in Canterbury and adjoining regions means drivers will need to keep closely informed as they travel into and out of Canterbury, says Mark Pinner, System Manager for Waka Kotahi Central South Island.

This is particularly important for people who drive overnight in January, he says. “We will further update details in the New Year, however an early overview is being provided to avoid surprises,” he says. “People should add an hour onto their summer journeys in 2023.”

For general Hotspots/ Holiday Journey busy times into and out of Christchurch, Queenstown/Wanaka and Nelson and Blenheim/Picton, check this map with peak times from earlier Xmas periods.

Journey Planner summer holidays 2022(external link)

New Year work

“We have scheduled some key pieces of work overnight to limit the effects upon daytime holiday travellers,” says Mr Pinner. “This impacts much more upon our freight drivers, so this work has to be carefully co-ordinated so they have an alternative, reliable route.”

SH73 Porters Pass hairpin bend and Parapet Rock area, Canterbury, 15-18 January, Sunday to Wednesday - four nights of closures

This work is scheduled for four nights 9 pm to 5 am with an opening between midnight and 12.30 am each night to let traffic through in both directions. Parapet Rock is north of Cave Stream/Castle Hill and south of Lake Pearson.

Night work in Marlborough 22 January – 3 February, SH1

Marlborough Roads work on the Weld Pass, SH1, south of Blenheim, is scheduled for two weeks at night, Sunday night, 22 January to Friday, 3 February.

  • This will involve a night closure from 8 pm to 6 am, with one night opening slot – details/ time to be confirmed in the New Year. Drivers will otherwise need to take the St Arnaud - Lewis Pass route into and out of Canterbury (SH63, 6, 65 and 7).

Hundalees: four nights closed, 22-25 January, SH1

While the work in Marlborough is underway, there will be maintenance work done further south on the Hundalee curves, south of Kaikōura. This will take around four nights, Sunday night, 22 January through to Wednesday, 25 January, 10 pm to 5 am, also with one night opening slot – details/ time to be confirmed in the New Year.

  • Light vehicles can take the inland route into Kaikōura via Mt Lyford and Waiau, turn off SH1 north of Parnassus (Route 70).

Amberley, North Canterbury, SH1 closed at night, local detour

This sealing work will close SH1 in Amberley 9 pm to 5 am, Friday, 13 January to Monday, 23 January. A local detour will be in place for all traffic with just a few minutes added to the journey overall.

SH73 Canterbury side, work on bridges – 15 days from end of January

The Canterbury contracting team will do essential maintenance work on the Bealey River Bridge and Bruce Stream Bridge near Arthur’s Pass during the daytime, at this stage likely to be from Monday, 30 January for up to 15 days, excluding Waitangi Weekend moratorium, 3-6 February. There are likely to be 15-minute openings at the top of each hour so people can get in and out from Castle Hill and Arthur’s Pass Village. More confirmations/details in the New Year.

North Canterbury’s Engineers Camp, Lewis Pass route near Hanmer Springs turnoff, SH7, 7-21 February, full night closures

Lewis Pass drivers will need to take a different route or avoid overnight travel for two weeks, from Tuesday, 7 February through to Tuesday night, 21 February, 9 pm to 5 am.  Full road rehabilitation/ reconstruction will be underway around an area called Engineers Camp. 

Alternative routes are via SH73 Arthur’s Pass between the West Coast and Canterbury, or SH1 via Kaikōura.

  • This work on the Lewis Pass highway will continue to Saturday 25 February during the daytimes with minor delays, Stop/Go traffic management.

Closer to Christchurch

Cam to Tram, SH1, back on track

The final sealing of SH1, Cam River to Tram Road, was postponed due to wet weather and is now rescheduled for Wednesday, 11 January – Friday, 20 January. Work is planned during the day and overnight, with a detour through Kaiapoi the weekend of 14 and 15 January.

Lineside Road

  • Work is also planned for the SH1/ SH71 Lineside Road interchange on Sunday, 22 January, closing the motorway overnight 9 pm to 5 am, detour through Kaiapoi.
  • SH1 Tram Road to Lineside Road, SH71, will also be resealed from the end of January, Sunday, 29 January to Wednesday, 1 February overnight hours – 9 pm to 5 am, Kaiapoi as the detour.

Waimakariri Bridge, SH1, joints

This work is also scheduled for the New Year, Sunday, 29 January to Friday, 3 February, and may cause some directional closures overnight.

The bigger picture, build in that extra hour

A large work programme over days and nights across the North Canterbury highway maintenance  area is scheduled with around 50% completed to the end of 2022.

People driving between Christchurch and Picton, Christchurch and Nelson or Christchurch and the West Coast should add an hour to the usual journey times in the New Year.

  • 220kms of the 878km North Canterbury highway network (including SH73 and SH7 links to the West Coast/ Nelson and SH1 to Kaikōura) has work scheduled (around 12% or an eighth of the network). As well as sealing and reconstruction work this also includes skid resistance treatments.
  • The summer season is always the busiest time of the year for highway maintenance as this is the time of the year the seal/ chipseal sticks most effectively when road temperatures are warm and rain (hopefully) is minimal. It usually starts in October and runs through to the end of March.
  • We have planned our work in the North Canterbury region in conjunction with work in Tasman /Marlborough /Nelson, the West Coast, and South Canterbury areas to minimise disruption to road users and keep our crews safe.

General safety tips

  • Reduce your speed if there are roadwork signs – even if there is no crew visible the speed may be reduced for your safety and to avoid damage to vehicles.
  • Check your route ahead of time and the Journey Planner for information on closure times and possible detours, and allow plenty of time for any roadworks encountered.
  • Please be patient and considerate of our workers – they are working for your safety and to maintain the transport network in good condition.
  • Please be mindful of tiredness this time of year – drive with care, be considerate, take breaks.

Going further south into Otago or Southland? Read more safety advice and key routes with maintenance in 2023.

Holiday Hotspots, tips for enjoyable journeys Otago and Southland