Easter travel: build in time through Mid and South Canterbury


A road rehabilitation site on SH1 just north of the Rangitata River at Ealing was unable to be completed this week as unforeseen issues with the surface meant it could not be sealed, says NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi (NZTA).

Other works were programmed at the same time in the vicinity, including bridge inspections and cleaning, which were completed. While sealing works at Ealing were not completed on Tuesday, works continued on the site to prepare the surface, ready for the chipsealing to come after Easter. This was coordinated with the partial closure/ Stop and Go operation to limit disruption to road users, says NZTA’s Senior Network Manager for Mid and South Canterbury Scott McKenzie.

“Given the issues experienced for this surfacing project, around 600 metres of highway now requires further works and favourable weather for three to five days before the first stage of sealing. We are not able to do this work ahead of Easter,” says Mr McKenzie.

The highway will be managed under temporary traffic control, with a lower speed limit during the holiday break across and north of the Rangitata Bridge.

Crews will monitor the site to ensure it remains in good condition over the four-day Easter weekend, he says.

Large traffic volumes are expected with holiday traffic and events planned over the long weekend, likely to result in higher traffic volumes on key highways like SH1 (the coastal highway), SH8 (Pleasant Point to Fairlie) and SH79 (Rangitata to Geraldine and Fairlie). People are encouraged to check the Easter Journey Planner to avoid peak congestion times if they can: 

Easter weekend 2024 holiday journeys(external link)

“Our planned night work at Ealing will resume after Easter with a target of next week for sealing this section of SH1 depending on outcome of the holiday traffic and weather,” says Mr McKenzie. More information will be provided next week.

Mr McKenzie said the delay was regrettable, but the surfacing issues sometimes occurred with higher traffic volumes during pavement construction, when crews were balancing night and day works while maintaining a suitable surface for sealing conditions. Exposed parts of the road-fill react differently to changing temperature, moisture and traffic volumes at different times, hardening/ binding the surface and making it unable to be sealed.

Next week at Ealing

  • Next week’s works through Ealing will be as previous programmed - 9am until 5pm but may be reduced depending on progress.
  • Forecast delays of up to an hour with an optional detour for light vehicles would be available.
  • If possible, work will be done during off-peak hours.
  • Warm temperatures are needed for sealing, so early starts and working longer at night does not always apply.
  • More information on the daytime sealing/specific days next week.

Easter driving through Canterbury and further south

Warbirds over Wānaka is just one of the attractions bringing thousands of people into Queenstown Lakes District often via Canterbury this Easter.

Generally, people should not expect to see active highway work sites for the four days but some work is resuming after Easter so some places will have temporary speed limits and road cones protecting the sites, particularly in Mid and South Canterbury.

Tinwald’s new traffic signals are now operational, which may cause short delays for SH1 drivers. Rolleston, Ashburton and Timaru are also likely to be busy for Easter.

Easter travel advice for Otago, Southland, Canterbury and the West Coast