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Travel information for Canterbury and Marlborough regions

Planned two-day closure of State Highway 1 south of Kaikoura - January 16-17 

Further sluicing work to close SH1 from Hundalee to Kaikoura.

State Highway 1 south of Kaikoura will be closed for two days next week in order to allow work crews to safely remove rocks and debris from the surrounding hillside.

During the two day operation, scheduled for next Monday and Tuesday (16th and 17th of January), three sluicing helicopters and a ground crew will be bringing the rocks and debris down.

The NZ Transport Agency will be diverting traffic along the Inland Road (Route 70) while the sluicing work is carried out.

As a result of the closure people travelling to and from Kaikoura should allow one hour of extra time for their journeys.  

Roads into Kaikoura 

Road access is restored to Kaikoura. The Inland Route 70 is now open and State Highway 1 to the south of the seaside town is open* with restrictions.

*These roads may have to close at short notice when it rains or in bad weather as geotechnical advisors need to check the route's safety in these circumstances. Before you travel, please check the Traffic information map for real time updates on this southern access to Kaikoura.

The Inland Route, between Waiau and Kaikoura, is now open 24/7 with unrestricted access both ways. There are speed restrictions and no stopping areas which everyone using the route is asked to strictly adhere to. The average travel time for the 90km route from Waiau to Kaikoura is about two hours.

The route remains hazardous and fragile and all road users are asked to take extra care and be prepared for the unexpected.

Access along State Highway 1 to the south of Kaikoura is restored with night-time restrictions. These will remain until all slip faces have been stabilised and traffic signals have been installed along a 1km coastal section of the route where there is single-lane access only.

Access will be two-way and only during daylight hours, 6am to 8pm. The last vehicles will be admitted to travel along SH1 south from Peketa at 7.30pm. Vehicles travelling north from Christchurch are advised to leave the city by 5.30pm to ensure they get through to Kaikoura before the road closes at Oaro at 7.15pm.

There is no stopping or camping along the route because of the risk from potential rockfall in the event of any further seismic activity or heavy rain. There will be designated rest areas for your safety. 

Alternate route - Christchurch to Picton

State Highway 1 is closed to through traffic travelling from Christchurch to Picton

The road is open between Picton and Clarence, and from Cheviot to Oaro.

People travelling between Picton and Christchurch need to use the alternate inland highway route – State Highway 6 and 63 to Murchison, and then along State Highway 65 to Springs Junction and through Lewis Pass (State Highway 7) to State Highway 1 at Waipara.

View the map [PDF, 141 KB].

The trip from Picton to Christchurch will take about seven and a half hours. Everyone is asked to take extra care and allow plenty of time for their trip. Current traffic volumes are four times normal and expected to increase as families head away for the holiday season. Travel times and delays on the route will only get worse.

There's petrol, café and toilet facilities at St Arnaud, Murchison, Springs Junction and Culverden.

Alternate route for cyclists

Much of the alternate state highway route between Picton and Christchurch is via state highways 63, 6, 65 and 7 via Murchison and Lewis Pass is not suitable for cyclists because of the narrow, windy road  and increased traffic volumes, in particular freight vehicles. It is therefore recommended you take the longer touring route via Nelson and down the West Coast or contact a public transport provider and travel by bus to Christchurch.

If taking the touring route view the map [PDF, 558 KB] to ensure you avoid most of the busy highways.

Safe driving advice for the alternate route between Picton and Christchurch

  • Drivers should expect this journey to take on average seven and a half hours, and be prepared for delays. However the Transport Agency strongly recommends drivers build extra time in to their travel plans with the route currently carrying four times the usual volumes of traffic, including more truck and trailer units.
  • Drivers need to be extra cautious and patient, to slow down and take their time. When possible to do so safely, slower drivers should pull over to let traffic behind them through. This will help prevent drivers behind them becoming frustrated and making poor overtaking decisions.
  • This alternate route is narrow and windy in many places and there are speed restrictions in some areas. Drivers should strictly adhere to the road signage and speed restrictions. Police patrols will be more visible along the alternate state highway route and they will be enforcing speed limits to ensure safety. Transport Agency maintenance contract teams will be present to manage any safety risks and a range of short-term measures are completed to help improve the journey time and safety along this route.
  • It is important that visitors do not drive when tired. Fatigue affects drivers’ reactions, ability to concentrate and risk judgement. Stopping and getting a good night’s sleep is the only cure, along with taking regular breaks.
    More information about warning signs and how to minimise the risk of fatigue.

Resources

For information on state highways affected by earthquake:

South Island updates

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