South Island highways update – 10:45am Thursday 17 November


Twenty-four hour highway access to Hanmer Springs from State Highway 7 via State Highway 7A has been restored, following assessments showing a reduced risk of further rockfalls.

Crews are continuing work to assess the safety of several key South Island routes, clear slips and safely re-open roads as soon as conditions allow.

Transport Agency Highways Manager Neil Walker says work will continue to focus on restoring access to communities which have been cut off by damage from Monday’s quake and establishing safe and reliable alternative routes.

Crews are continuing to work urgently on the Kaikoura Emergency Access Road (inland route 70) between Culverden and Kaikoura, clearing slips and assessing the road and structures for damage. The road is under strict control of Civil Defence Canterbury. This is due to the dangerous conditions, and the road is currently only being used to deliver supplies to Kaikoura. There is currently no public access due to the unsafe and challenging conditions. Crews are working hard to restore controlled public access as soon as possible. Civil Defence Canterbury will provide further information as soon as safe public access is restored.

The alternative state highway route from Picton to Christchurch, via Murchison and the Lewis Pass has been open since late Monday afternoon. This will likely be the main state highway route from Christchurch to Picton for several months, given the amount of work which will be required to clear the large slips which have closed SH1.

Controlled access for local residents and essential services has also been restored on SH1 south from Seddon to Okiwi Bay, and north from Cheviot to Goose Bay.  It’s important to note that these sections of SH1 are only accessible to local residents or essential services – all other traffic must use the alternate route via the Lewis Pass.

With the closure of SH1, Mr Walker says the Lewis Pass route will be carrying higher volumes of traffic, and people are urged to allow extra time for their journeys. People should allow an additional 90 minutes to two hours for the journey between Christchurch and Picton on the Lewis Pass route - average journey times between Christchurch and Picton are currently expected to take seven and a half hours. Fuel, food and toilet stops are available along the route at Culverden, Springs Junction, Murchison and St Arnaud.

With continuing aftershocks contributing to the on-going risk of further slips and rockfalls in several parts of the South Island, people are urged to drive with extra caution and comply with all temporary speed restrictions.

People can call 0800 44 44 49 for updates and the Transport Agency’s website and social media accounts will be also updated as more information is available. 

Canterbury / Marlborough highway status - 5pm, 15 November 2016 [PDF, 1.8 MB] (map detailing affected routes)
(external link)

For traffic news visit link)

South Island updates

Wellington updates

To arrange media interviews please call:

Andy Knackstedt
National Media Manager
NZ Transport Agency

T: 04 894 6285 
M: 021 276 3222 

For all media inquiries relating to the Kaikoura Emergency Access Road (inland route 70) please contact: 

M: 027 221 5259