The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) says it will be Monday morning before it is in position to say when State Highway 1 about 15km south of Kaikoura will re-open, following a major slip last night.
NZTA Canterbury State Highways Operations Manager Peter Connors says the challenges around clearing the 100 metre long slip from what is a difficult site make it hard to say at this stage exactly when the highway can be used again. The possibility that the slip was caused by earthquakes is not being ruled out.
"The NZTA realises the importance of getting this key route open quickly, but that cannot occur until we are confident there is no risk to road users."
Pete Connors says having contractors working through the night is not an option because of the demanding the terrain and the stability of the slip. It is too early to estimate the cost of clearing the slip and restoring the highway.
Mr Connors added that because of the detours that are in place road users should allow extra time for their trip.
A detour is available for light traffic on Route 70 - the inland Kaikoura route. However, heavy vehicles must use SH63 Wairau Valley and SH7 the Lewis Pass to travel south to Christchurch and beyond.
Up to date information on this slip can be found at www.highwayinfo.govt.nz or by phoning 0800 44 44 49.