The earthquake on November 14 2016 caused widespread damage throughout the South Island districts of Hurunui, Marlborough and Kaikoura, closing both State Highway 1 (SH1) and the Main North Line railway between Picton and Christchurch. It shook loose more than one million cubic metres of earth from the hills, burying the road, destroying bridges and ripping railway lines out into the sea.
The road was cut off in two places: a 21 km stretch north of Kaikōura and an 8 km one to the south, isolating Kaikōura. Power and internet went down and drinking water systems, sewage systems and local roads were all badly affected. The marina was uplifted by up to 2 m, making it usable only at high tide.
About $351 million of a $1.2 billion pool has been spent so far repairing the region’s roads, rail and harbour, with the job falling to the North Cantebury Transport Infrastructure Recovery alliance (NCTIR), made up of NZ Transport Agency (NZTA), KiwiRail and a range of contractors.
A mere 12 months after the earthquake, the team has been hitting incredible milestones.
The marina was reopened on Tuesday, and NZTA has announced that the north stretch of SH1 will be reopened on Friday, December 15. A total of 1700 people have been hard at work repairing SH1 and the railway.
The southern stretch of road is currently open four days a week, and will be fully reopened from December 15.
However, Earthquake Recovery Manager Tim Crow says there will be major restrictions; when the road reopens several sites will still be under construction. There will be some unsealed surfaces, lane closures and stop/go traffic controls. The route will be closed at night in places for several months as a safety precaution, and planned closures will also be needed at times to carry out high-impact work.
It’s still a very welcome development for the coastal community that has had its tourism lifeblood cut off for 12 months.