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Road north of Kaikōura to re-open mid-December

6 November 2017

Kaikōura is looking forward to welcoming even more visitors back with the re-opening of the highway link between Picton, Kaikōura and Christchurch just around the corner.

NZ Transport Agency has confirmed plans to reopen State Highway 1 (SH1) north of Kaikōura to traffic on Friday 15 December, restoring the coastal highway link from Picton to Christchurch.

The road was closed after it suffered damage in the Kaikōura earthquake on 14 November 2016.

NZ Transport Agency Earthquake Recovery Manager Tim Crow says the reopening of the highway for daytime travel (from 7am to 8pm) will give people two viable options for moving around the upper South Island, with the alternate route remaining a reliable option.

The alternative route is via State Highways 63, 6, 65 and 7 through Lewis Pass.

SH1 south of Kaikōura, which is currently open on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays only, will be open seven days a week from December 15 – for daylight travel only.

Inland Route 70, which travellers must use Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, will continue to be open 24/7.

From December 15, the estimated travel time to drive between Picton and Christchurch is expected to be a minimum of 5 ½ hours. Driving on the alternate route is expected to take a minimum of 6 ½ hours.

Crow says several sites will still be under construction and 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.

Travellers will be able to check this dedicated web page before travel, which will be updated regularly with more information.

NZ Transport Agency is urging people to allow plenty of extra time when planning journeys, whatever route they choose, and to check the latest conditions at least two hours before travel (and at key route decision points when driving) so that they can get to their destination safely in case of delays.

“While we’re re-opening SH1 as early as we safely can to provide better access to Kaikōura and for those communities along the coastal route, the full rebuild of the highway will continue in 2018,” Crow says.

“It’s important for drivers to understand that both routes have their own challenges so they need to think about the best option for them and where they’re heading. Either way people will need to allow plenty of time in case of unexpected delays or closures,” he says.

SH1 will be safe for driving for coaches, campervans, motorhomes, rental vehicles, private vehicles (with trailers and boats) and trucks at allocated speed limits. There will be 30km, 50km and 80km speed limit sections.

There will be one section of one-lane roadworks between Peketa and Oaro where there will be a 15-20minute delay/stop.

Read a release by NZ Transport Agency here and visit Destination Kaikōura for information on what to do in Kaikōura, with more than 90 per cent of attractions open for business.

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