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lyttelton tunnel entrance new

Project introduction

Since 1964 the Lyttelton Tunnel has been a critical road link between the Port of Lyttelton and Christchurch, reducing the travel distance between the two by around 8km. This tunnel is a vital transport artery for delivering the goods and services needed to rebuild Christchurch.

  • Project type

    Road maintenance

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The Lyttelton Tunnel provides a critical road link between the Port of Lyttelton and Christchurch. 




New Zealand's longest road tunnel is designed to handle 2,400 vehicles an hour. In 1965, an average of 2,805 vehicles a day used the tunnel. In 2011 this figure is just over 11,000 vehicles a day including around 1,260 heavy commercial vehicles, underlining the tunnel’s importance as a key freight route.

Fire protection upgrade

Work has started on installing a modern fire protection Deluge system in the Lyttelton Tunnel that will improve safety for all tunnel users. Learn more.

Heavy vehicles in the tunnel

The Lyttelton Tunnel is a vital heavy motor vehicle transport link that makes a major contribution to economic growth in both Christchurch and the wider Canterbury region.

Its role has been of even greater importance through the Christchurch rebuild process with the tunnel being a critical link in the supply chain for delivering the goods and services.

Because of road closures caused by the Christchurch earthquakes including Evans Pass (the main overdimension heavy vehicle route between Christchurch and Lyttelton), the Transport Agency is currently allowing some previously prohibited goods to be transported through the tunnel under specific conditions. This includes the transportation of liquid goods with a flash point of 23o celsius or less. These concessions are helping to keep transport costs down for businesses during what is a challenging time for both Christchurch and the Canterbury region.

Dangerous goods

Explosives are not allowed to be transported through the tunnel at any time.

Certain classes of dangerous goods can be transported through the Lyttelton Tunnel between 7pm and 7am.

Vehicles with the classes of dangerous goods that can be carted through the tunnel must be checked by a tunnel control officer before entering the tunnel. Drivers should wait in the appropriate lay-by until a tunnel control officer gives them approval to proceed into the tunnel. For more details, download the information sheet for commercial users. [PDF, 462 KB]