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An overview – one earthquake, two minutes, many challenges

Moving mountains overview

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(external link) ever recorded in New Zealand and caused widespread damage throughout the South Island districts of Hurunui, Marlborough and Kaikōura, 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 became isolated - all roads and the rail network in and out of the area were damaged and closed by multiple 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.

The challenge – restoring road and rail routes and a marina

The level of earthquake damage to the road and rail networks between Picton and Christchurch was unprecedented in New Zealand.  

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Caring for people

From early on, the team was committed to reconnect communities by the end of 2017.

Keeping everyone informed has been key in this project. There has been a real focus on maintaining strong relationships with the communities affected by the earthquake and recovery work but also with all New Zealand businesses relying on the infrastructure, such as the freight and tourism industries.

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