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Project introduction

The damage caused by the 7.8-magnitude November 2016 Kaikōura earthquake to the Main North Line railway and SH1 along the east coast of the South Island was unprecedented in New Zealand. The North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery alliance was set-up to restore the road and rail networks.

An overview – one earthquake, two minutes, many challenges

Just after midnight on 14 November 2016, most of central New Zealand woke following a 7.8 magnitude earthquake which struck about 60km south west of the coastal town of Kaikōura in the South Island.

The 2016 earthquake generated the strongest ground acceleration ever recorded in New Zealand and caused widespread damage closing both State Highway 1 (SH1) and the Main North Line railway between Picton and Christchurch.

With close to a million cubic metres of rock and material falling onto the coastal transport corridor, Kaikōura and the surrounding rural communities were isolated – all roads and the rail network in and out of the area were damaged and closed by the slips.

This major event disrupted the lives of many: homes were damaged, businesses were closed, farms left with damaged land and no access to markets for their goods, and communities devastated by the loss of trade from passing traffic and tourists.

After the earth stopped shaking

Read our StoryMaps(external link) about the extraordinary work to reopen the transport corridor and then build back stronger and more resilient. Stories include feats of engineering, preserving the precious, and community stories.

Our Kaikōura story

This is ‘our Kaikōura story’ about the work to reopen the harbour, rail and road – and then improve the transport networks to make them safer and more resilient for the future.

Achieving positive heritage outcomes in Kaikōura

The archaeology work undertaken by the NCTIR Alliance in Kaikōura was the first regional scale heritage-oriented project in New Zealand.

NCTIR by the numbers

Snapshot of some of the project statistics.

View larger image [PDF, 8.3 MB]

Questions and answers

  • Who is NCTIR?

    The North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery (NCTIR) was set up by the government late December 2016 to restore the earthquake damaged infrastructure between Picton and Christchurch.

    NCTIR is an alliance partnership between Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, KiwiRail, Downer, Fulton Hogan, HEB Construction and Higgins. 


Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency / KiwiRail ? North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery