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A month on from the Kaikoura Earthquake the freight industry is now well used to the additional travel time between Picton and Christchurch.

Quake damageWith State highway 1 through Kaikoura to remain closed for some time yet, the alternative route through the Lewis Pass is carrying a much more traffic than usual, adding at least three hours on to a trip from Picton to Christchurch.

The NZ Transport Agency is reminding freight operators to expect delays, ensure drivers are well rested and take plenty of breaks.

The Transport Agency’s National Manager Operations Kate Styles says that it is pleasing to see that freight companies have adjusted the way they operate to work around the closure of State highway 1 and the extra time this journey involves.

“We want to make sure that commercial drivers who travel this challenging route are aware of the extra time they will be driving and are rested and refreshed. This road is now a vital lifeline for the South Island and we need to ensure that we do all we can to lower the risks for those using it, such as driver fatigue.”

All motorists using the road need to be aware this is a narrow, windy route with fewer passing opportunities. The road is getting far more traffic than usual and all drivers need to be prepared for queues and potential delays.

 “We have had enquiries about variations to the work-time, rest-time rule for the alternative route. This is something we will assess on a case-by-case basis, and in very exceptional circumstances. Our primary concern will always be the safety of drivers and all road users,” Mrs Styles says. 

The alternative route which involves State highways 7, 65, 6 and 63 is a narrow, windy route with fewer passing opportunities.

“We have received un-solicited feedback from road users letting us know how courteous truck drivers on the route are being, which is really great to hear,” Mrs Styles says.

Commercial operators and drivers who want to be sent traffic updates for the route via text message are encouraged to email to be added to the distribution list for this service. Once signed up they will remain on the distribution list until the end of summer (Feb 2017).

All High Productivity Motor Vehicles (HPMVs) including 50MAX that were permitted for State highway 1 are able to use the alternative route. However there are some restrictions that are important to note:

  • HPMVs including 50MAX are not to use the short cut of Anglesea Street / Boyce Street, at Renwick to get between SH63 and SH6
  • HPMVs including 50MAX are not to travel via SH6 through Woodbourne and into Blenheim to join SH1

There is a page on our website (external link) which outlines relevant information for freight operators driving between Christchurch and Picton. There is a general travel information webpage (external link) for Canterbury and Marlborough regions, including a map showing the alternative route to State highway 1.

Any freight operator planning to travel to the South Island should check both of these pages for the latest updates on travel conditions.   

For more information: