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Plan your journey: upper South Island travel guide

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A guide to travelling from Picton/Blenheim to Christchurch on the alternate route. This is while State Highway 1 is being repaired following the November 2016 earthquake. 

Publication details

  • Author:
  • Published: 30 April 2017

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Print versions are available in: English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Thai and Arabic. 

State Highway 1 (SH1) is closed to all traffic travelling from Blenheim to Christchurch because of damage from the Kaikōura earthquake in November 2016.

You can travel from Picton/Blenheim to Kaikōura on the alternate route along state highways 63, 6, 65 and 7, then on Inland Road 70.

If the GPS in your rental vehicle says you can travel to Kaikōura on SH1 from Picton or Blenheim, ignore it – the road is closed.

There are no train services between Picton and Christchurch as the railway line is also damaged and closed.

How to get from Picton/Blenheim to Kaikōura and Christchurch

Map showing how to get from Picton to Christchurch

SH1 south from Blenheim to Christchurch is closed - but you can still drive from Blenheim to Kaikōura and Christchurch on an alternate route.

Follow the orange signs on SH1 at Blenheim that point to Kaikōura and Christchurch. This will take you on the alternate route:

  • West on State Highway 63 through St Arnaud and on State Highway 6 to Murchison.

  • South on State Highway 6 to Maruia and Springs Junction.

  • Southeast on State Highway 7, over Lewis Pass, past the turn-off to Hanmer Springs and on to Culverden.

The trip from Blenheim to Culverden will take you about five and a half hours to drive.
At Culverden, head north on Inland Road 70 to Kaikōura. This will take another two hours.

Take plenty of breaks and be prepared for delays as there are roadworks on the route.
If travelling to Christchurch, it will take another one and half hours to get from Culverden, travelling on SH7 and joining SH1 at Waipara.

How to get from Kaikōura to Christchurch

Map showing alternate route Kaikoura to Christchurch

SH1 from Kaikōura to Christchurch is open but only during daylight hours. This is currently from 7am to 6pm each day.

Work continues to repair and rebuild the road and railway following the earthquake. This can cause delays and closures. Allow plenty of time for your trip.

Do not rely on your GPS for road closure information relating to SH1.

Opening hours

Opening hours on SH1 from Kaikōura to Christchurch will change as winter progresses. Before travelling, check the website for the latest travel information. 

How to get from Christchurch to Kaikōura and then Blenheim/Picton

Map showing how to get from Christchurch to Kaikoura and on to Picton/Blenheim

You can travel from Christchurch to Kaikōura on SH1. The road is open during daylight hours only, currently from 7am to 6pm each day.

Work continues to repair and rebuild the road and railway following the earthquake. This can cause delays and closures – check the website before travelling.

Do not rely on your GPS for road closure information.

To then travel from Kaikōura to Blenheim, go about 5.5km south of Kaikōura on SH1 and take Inland Road 70 through Mt Lyford and Waiau to Culverden. This will take two hours to drive. Then travel northwest on SH7 through Lewis Pass to Springs Junction, turn north onto SH65 and travel through Maruia to turn north into SH6 and then into SH63, travelling through St Arnaud to Blenheim and SH1, to travel north to Picton and the Cook Strait ferries. From Culverden to Picton, it will take about six hours driving time.

Before you travel

Check the latest road information at our website or  Facebook (external link)  or Twitter (external link)  or phone 0800 4 HIGHWAYS (0800 44 44 49)

 

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