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Upper South Island, Kaikōura weather warnings: check before you head off

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The NZ Transport Agency advises travellers in Marlborough and Nelson, along the Kaikōura Coast and North Canterbury to be aware that severe weather is forecast for later today and Friday.

As part of their severe weather warnings, the MetService(external link) is warning of heavy rain and strong southerly winds overnight Thursday, with the highest rainfall in the South Island expected to be along the Seaward Kaikōura Range, Hapuku to Clarence, and also along the Inland Road (Route 70) via Waiau and Mt Lyford.

“These forecast rainfall totals(external link) of more than 100mm over 24 hours could have a significant impact on State Highway 1 through Kaikōura and the Inland Road via Waiau,” says Transport Agency Journey Manager Tresca Forrester.

The very wet weather coincides with many people travelling between Christchurch and Picton including holiday-makers and people heading home for work next week. “People should check road conditions before they set off,” she says.

“Following an extensive post-earthquake construction programme, State Highway1 through Kaikōura reopened mid-December. This has given people two upper South Island highway options for daytime travel, with the alternate route (via State Highways 63, 6, 65 and 7 through Lewis Pass) open 24/7. During this weather event, road users should definitely consider the use of the Lewis Pass route and remember to factor in extra time.”

Ms Forrester says that drivers need to be aware that parts of SH1 both north and south of Kaikōura are still construction sites with two sections currently closed each night from 8.30pm-7am as a safety precaution. The Inland Road (Route 70 via Waiau) is open 24/7 but drivers should be aware it also had earthquake damage and has ongoing construction work sites.

“Travellers need to be aware that two areas of the SH1 route, both north and south of Kaikōura, are vulnerable to severe weather which could cause additional delays, or even a temporary road closure* if there are safety or slip concerns. Transport Agency contractors continue to monitor road and weather conditions so they can quickly respond to any surface flooding, slips and rock falls for everyone’s safety.

“Irrespective of weather forecasts, weather and road conditions can change rapidly.

Anyone planning a journey between Christchurch and Picton should always check www.nzta.govt.nz/p2c(external link), or call 0800 4 HIGHWAYS (0800 44 44 49) before travelling to check which route is available and is most suitable for their trip.”

The Transport Agency recommends drivers check information at least two hours before travel and at key decision points along the route including checking the electronic signs with real-time information at key locations including Picton, Blenheim and Waipara.

“Anyone planning travel in this area Friday and Saturday should allow extra time for their journey and be prepared for challenging driving conditions, including debris on the road, and possible detours and road closures.”

*If SH1 is delayed from opening through Kaikōura at the usual time of 7.00 am Friday (5 January) the links below will be updated by 6.30 am on Friday.

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