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Project Introduction

The damage caused by the 7.8-magnitude November 2016 Kaikoura earthquake to the Main North Line railway and SH1 along the east coast of the South Island was unprecedented in New Zealand. The North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery alliance was set-up to restore the road and rail networks.

Moving mountains to reconnect communities

Good progress is being made to have the earthquake-damaged State Highway 1 along the South Island’s east coast reopened before Christmas.

Learn about the scale of the project and keep up-to-date with progress as we countdown to the December 2017 reopening.

If planning to travel to Kaikoura or through the area after the road reopens use our Real time info to plan your journey.

Project updates

The Bulletin - 20 October
Project updates, (PDF)
The Bulletin - 13 October
Project updates, (PDF)
The Bulletin - 6 October
Project updates, (PDF)
The Bulletin - 29 September
Project updates, (PDF)
The Bulletin - 22 September
Project updates, (PDF)

Road status

Please refer to the real-time travel information page for the latest road status.


The 2016 Kaikōura earthquake caused significant damage to the area, closing both State Highway 1 (SH1) and the Main North Rail Line between Picton and Christchurch. This has disrupted the lives of those who live along the highway and who rely on the road and rail networks to access their homes, farms and businesses and the movement of goods to market.

The North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery (NCTIR) has been set-up by the government under the Hurunui/Kaikōura Earthquakes Recovery Act 2016 to repair and get the road and rail networks re-opened by the end of 2017.

State Highway 1 remains closed to through-traffic from Picton to Christchurch. The highway is open between Picton and Clarence, and from Christchurch to Kaikoura during daylight hours. It remains closed between Clarence and Mangamaunu.

Road access was restored to Kaikōura before Christmas 2016, via the Inland Route 70 and on State Highway 1 south of the seaside town which is open with restrictions. The work by NCTIR includes repairing and rebuilding the networks to be more resilient and safer, helping keep everyone better connected in the future. NCTIR will also manage the upgrade of the alternate highway route between Picton and Christchurch, along State Highways 63, 6, 65 and 7 (Lewis Pass), and the Inland Road between Kaikōura and Culverden.

NCTIR is an alliance partnership between the NZ Transport Agency, KiwiRail, Fulton Hogan, Downer, HEB Construction and Higgins.

Canterbury / Marlborough travel map

Protecting the marine environment

SealProtecting Kaikōura’s unique coastal marine area and mitigating any impacts the rebuild work may have on any wildlife in the area is a top priority for our programme of work.

We’re working closely with the Department of Conservation to ensure that our work to clear the slips blocking SH1 and the railway line is carried out in a way that takes account of the need to protect the environment and cultural values of the area.

We have engaged an independent marine scientist to work with us as we develop options for clearing the slips on the coastal route. The need to mitigate the impact of our work on seals and other wildlife in the area is an extremely important consideration as we progress our plans to clear the slips and rebuild the road and rail corridor.

We’re committed to re-opening SH1 and the railway line as quickly as possible to re-connect communities and help get the region back on its feet. Equally, we need to carry out this work in a way which recognises and respects the importance of the marine environment.

The first phase of this work is two-week trial, which is now underway at Site 7, a 20,000 cubic metre slip 300m north of Ohau Point. The trial is using seal-proof fencing (pictured) and on–site seal herding to keep seals and their pups away from the immediate base of the slip site, clear of falling rocks and debris while helicopter sluicing and slip clearance work is carried out. The fencing is working well.

At the end of the trial, the results will be reviewed to develop the best methods to use during our work programme. This is challenging work and we may need to come up with some creative solutions to keep the seals out of harm’s way.

NZ Transport Agency / KiwiRail