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Project introduction

The damage caused by the 7.8-magnitude November 2016 Kaikōura 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.

State Highway 1 reopened 15 December 2017

Project updates

The Bulletin - 2 February 2018
Project updates, (PDF)
The Bulletin - 26 January 2018
Project updates, (PDF)
The Bulletin - 19 January
Project updates, (PDF)
The Bulletin - 12 January
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.

One year one month and one day

One year, one month and month day on from an earthquake which changed the lives of so many people, it is an honour and a privilege to hand back to the local community and the travelling public their road, SH1, both north and south of Kaikoura. It is a day of mixed emotions, of reflection, of sadness, or optimism and of passion for achieving this milestone in such a short time. Please join us to reflect and celebrate how far we have come. 

Kaikōura earthquake recovery - our story

We have been reflecting a lot on what it’s taken to deliver the rebuilding and reconnecting of the railway, the harbour and the roading system following the Kaikōura earthquake.

While the final push to open SH1 north of Kaikōura – a milestone finally achieved – was astounding, it has in fact been a full year of effort from so many people, More than 1700 people from across NZ and around the world joined together to repair and renew the coastal and inland transport networks. Making this video has helped us revisit the extraordinary steps taken to get to where we are today.

This is ‘our story’.

Flythrough visualisation from Oaro to Clarence

We have had lots of people asking us about what SH1 will actually look like when open – we have all seen the devastation caused by the earthquake and have followed the incredible progress, but our curiosity knows no bounds. So … we created a flythrough of the corridor between Oaro in the South to Clarence in the North to virtually take you there! You will see where the road twists and winds through unsealed surfaces, between road-cone-lined edges, and where our stop/go teams will wave you through areas where traffic can only flow in one direction. While each day could offer a little something new, please make sure you plan your journey well ahead of time by visiting our Plan your journey page ( (external link) ).

Questions and answers

  • Who is NCTIR?

    The North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery (NCTIR) was set up by the government late December 2016 to restore the earthquake damaged infrastructure between Picton and Christchurch.

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

  • How big is the task?

    The earthquake generated the strongest ground acceleration (external link)  ever recorded in New Zealand, with widespread damage throughout the Hurunui, Marlborough and Kaikoura districts. The scale and complexity of the damage to State Highway 1, the Main North Line railway and the Kaikoura marina is unprecedented.

    The work by NCTIR includes repairing and rebuilding the transport networks to be more resilient and safer, helping keep everyone better connected in the future. The rebuild is a massive undertaking, and even after access is restored, there will be an ongoing repair programme to improve and help keep the network resilient.  

    Find out more about the challenge here 

  • When will the repairs be finished?

    The Main North Line railway is now live and freight services started again mid-September 2017 in a limited capacity at night so the rebuild of the road and rail can continue during the day. The internationally acclaimed Coastal Pacific tourism experience will be up and running when the rail line is fully complete and all of the speed restrictions are lifted.

    Our teams are working as hard as possible to have the road open to the public by the end of 2017 although work will continue in 2018 to bring the road corridor back to its pre-earthquake condition and deliver the government’s $231 million improvements package.

    More information about the road reopening

  • How many people are working on the recovery project?

    More than 1300 people from 100 organisations from across New Zealand and around the world are helping to restore the transport corridor along the Kaikoura coastline. NCTIR maintain a commitment to support locals where possible and around 100 people are based in our Kaikoura office. 


NZ Transport Agency / KiwiRail