SH1 reopening gives drivers two good options for travel around the top of the South Island – you need to decide which route is best for your needs.
At this stage it is estimated that it will take a minimum of 5.5 hours in normal conditions to drive from Picton to Christchurch on SH1 (one hour longer than pre-earthquake). However, you should allow plenty of extra time as delays are likely and can be caused by various reasons such as heavy traffic, a crash or bad weather.
The ‘alternate route’ (via state highways 63, 6, 65 and 7, through Lewis Pass) remains a good option for travel around the top of the South Island and is currently taking a minimum of 6.5 hours in normal conditions, although you should also allow plenty of time in case of delay on this route. There are ongoing improvements being made to this route as part of the Government’s $60 million package which continue over the summer season.
Journey time estimates are as accurate as they can be, based on the Transport Agency’s constant monitoring of the network and ongoing assessment of traffic patterns. However, this is a unique situation where it’s difficult to predict how the traffic will split across both routes. Unexpected events such as a crash, high volumes of traffic, ongoing wet weather or seismic activity can cause delays so it’s important that travellers allow plenty of time in case something happens.
This journey time information could change. You should regularly check the Transport Agency’s dedicated web page - www.nzta.govt.nz/p2c – which will be updated frequently as we approach the opening. It will be a hub for all the information you need about planned activity on both routes and links to the real-time travel information which should be regularly checked. Also check at least two hours before you travel and when you’re at key decision points on your route.
If planning to drive on SH1, y ou should allow enough time to take the alternate route in case SH1 is closed unexpectedly.