Project introduction

The damage caused to Marlborough roads by weather events in 2021 and 2022 was substantial. The Marlborough Roads Recovery Team was established to repair and restore the network and is one of the largest recovery projects for local New Zealand roads.

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About the project

The 17 July 2021 storm caused widespread flooding and damage across the Marlborough region, the scale and complexity of which caused more than 1,600 faults on Marlborough roads.

The storm saw parts of Queen Charlotte Drive, Kenepuru Road and side roads, Northbank, Waihopai Valley and Awatere Valley become impassable and unsafe for road users. Communities were cut-off, causing major disruptions to the lives and safety of many residents, bach owners and businesses.

The immediate emergency response focussed on building lifelines and supporting community welfare. As the recovery work progressed, the focus was on meeting the needs of residents, property owners and businesses to restore road access – with controls and restrictions in place to ensure the safety of everyone. 

Works had seen the completion of most minor repairs, while design was completed on complex faults.

In August 2022, a further weather event was again unprecedented for the region, with over twice the scale of damage than the previous year. Over 670km of Marlborough’s roads received damage in the storm, with over 4,000 faults identified.

Rai River experienced its biggest flood on record, estimated as a 60-year event. Communities in Canvastown and Rai Valley were cut off from Marlborough and Nelson with both State Highway 6 and State Highway 63 closed for a period. Access in and out of the Marlborough Sounds was also adversely affected.

Following the event, focus returned to emergency response to regain access to cut off communities. By mid-November 2022, over 600km of road had been returned to public access, with the last section of closed road open in time for Christmas. There remains nearly 60km of road with restrictions in place.

The focus in the first half of 2023 was  to improve access to the Marlborough Sounds with much of the improved access works concentrated along Kenepuru Road, of which a large section remains restricted to residents and emergency services only. 

There has also been several priority sites completed throughout the network and larger construction projects such as the building of Noel’s Bridge and the Limestone revetment.

In May 2023, the Waka Kotahi board agreed to fund a further 95 per cent of $52.39M, or $49.77M for the recovery of Marlborough's roads for Phase 2 of the recovery process.  

This funding enables Awatere Valley, Northbank and Waihopai Valley road repairs to be completed, as well as a one-year extension of barge and water taxi subsidies in the Marlborough Sounds.

It also includes funding for design for repairing high priority sites on Queen Charlotte Drive, and costs for some repairs in the Sounds that are necessary to maintain access, prior to the outcome of the Marlborough Sounds Future Access Study. 

For more information on the Marlborough Sounds Future Access Study visit the Marlborough District Council’s website.

Marlborough Sounds Future Access Study(external link)

The Marlborough Roads Recovery Team is a joint venture between Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, Marlborough District Council, Marlborough Roads, Fulton Hogan and HEB Construction.

The road to recovery  - crews hydroseeding a slip face on Queen Charlotte Drive, June 2023.

The rebuilding of a culvert and retaining wall along Queen Charlotte Drive, March 2023.


Get in touch

For more information

Phone: 03 520 8024 or 0800 213 213, Monday to Friday, 8am–5pm

Marlborough Roads partners: Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, Marlborough Roads District Council, HEB Construction, Fulton Hogan