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Page last updated on 2 May 2019.

If you have any questions you’d like added to this page please email info@nctir.com

Frequently asked questions

On this page you will find frequently asked questions on:

State Highway 1

  •   Is there ongoing work along SH1 in 2019?

    Yes. SH1 is open 24/7 but work continues to ensure the route stays safe and resilient for the future.

    Crews will also be deliverying an improvements package on the 60km section of State Highway 1 between Clarence and Oaro which will ultimately provide a higher level of service on the road for people living in the area, visitors to the region, and those travelling through. 

    Along the Kaikōura coast these improvements will widen the carriageway, install a wider centre line and protect vehicles that may hit an object or go down a slope by installing barriers. There are also seven formal safe stopping areas planned which will include parking and landscaped areas as well as various levels of amenity such as seating, viewing areas, and toilets. They are at Okiwi, Paparoa, Ōhau, Rakautarua, Raramai, Te Ana Pōuri (Rakautara north) and Toka-ānau (Hikurangi).

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  •   What does SH1 look like and what’s it like to drive on?

    Some areas are still construction sites. There are some unsealed surfaces, lane closures and stop/go at remaining works sites along the route.

    SH1 to the north of Kaikōura looks quite different in many places before the earthquake; new sections of highway have been built, along with a new bridge at Irongate and the road has been moved closer to the sea at some locations.

    There are some speed restrictions and no stopping zones along the worst affected areas to the north and south of Kaikōura.

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  •   How long will it take me to drive on SH1?

    You should allow 5.5 hours to drive from Picton to Christchurch on SH1 (one hour longer than pre-earthquake). But always check real-time travel information before you travel via www.nzta.govt.nz/p2c

    Unexpected events such as large weather events, a crash, high volumes of traffic or seismic activity can cause delays so it's important that travellers allow plenty of time in case something happens

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  •   Have some speed limits on State Highway 1 changed since the earthquake?

    In 2018 the Transport Agency reviewed the speeds people were driving, as well as the road itself. The review indicated that between Waipapa Bay and Hapuku, and from Peketa to Conway Flats, and for the Conway Bluffs, 80km/h was the safe and appropriate speed to balance safety and the efficient movement of people who live, travel and work along the road, except for part of the road over the Hundalee Hills where 55–59km/h was the typical travel speed, resultingin a new speed limit there of 60km/h.

    The new speed limits may take some time to adjust to, but they will help keep the local community and visitors safer.

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  •   Why do I have to wait at a stop/go when it looks like there’s no cars coming?

    There are many reasons we set up stop/go controls at work sites, although they may not always be obvious to drivers. It could be that we’re moving large construction vehicles within the work site, using a helicopter, or that crew are working on a rock face. We know it can be frustrating when you can’t see what’s happening, but we try to keep stoppages to a minimum.

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  •   Is there anything I should know about driving at night on SH1?

    People can expect to see:

    • Multiple sections where traffic moves to a single lane, which will be controlled by traffic signals rather than current daytime Stop/Go controls.
    • New signage including ‘no stopping’ and ‘rockfall’ signs (in addition to existing mesh and physical barriers) to protect road users and alert them to potential danger.
    • Trains travelling day and night in either direction between Picton and Christchurch: drivers should take care at level crossings and check both ways before proceeding.
    • Different types of traffic using the route including an increase in heavy vehicles, for example trucks and buses. Cyclists are advised to only use the road during the day for their own safety – due to multiple traffic lights and rockfall/no stopping areas.
    • That there will continue to be no stopping or camping in the two most earthquake-damaged areas just north and south of Kaikōura.
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  •   What driving advice should I follow on SH1?

    Allow plenty of time in case of delays. Be prepared with food, water, and a fully charged cell phone.

    For everyone’s safety, strictly adhere to all road signage and speed restrictions. Follow any instructions by road crew.

    It’s important to ‘drive to the conditions’ and that means more than just the weather. It includes driving in an appropriate way for the road you’re on, the vehicle you’re in, the other traffic around you, and your level of experience.

    Be patient, cautious and courteous. The road conditions may be unfamiliar to many drivers so a little bit of patience will go a long way.

    Keep fresh by taking breaks, and support businesses in local communities along the route.

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  •   Can I cycle along SH1?

    Yes. Cyclists must obey all signs and crew instructions. Cyclists may need assistance or be escorted in some areas. Cyclists are advised to only use the road during the day for their own safety – due to multiple traffic lights and rockfall/no stopping areas.

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Rail

  •   Are there trains back during the day?

    Yes, freight trains are running day and night and the Coastal Pacific passenger service that runs between Picton and Christchurch returned in November 2018 for the summer season.

    If you’re driving along SH1 you must slow down as you’re approaching a level crossing and be prepared to stop. Trains can come at any time, from either direction.

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  •   What has changed along the railway line?

    As with the road, a lot of work has been done to reinstate the railway line. Generally the rail line remains in the same place relative to the road along the route. However, in some areas through the narrow coastal sections road and rail have been moved closer together on a temporary basis until permanent re-alignments of road and rail are completed.

    Travellers will notice the work to stabilise the slopes above the rail line and the fences and other structures now in place to protect both the rail line and road from further slips They will also notice some of the rail tunnels are being extended with rock fall shelters.

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Alternate route (state highways 63, 6, 65 and 7, via Lewis Pass)

  •   What is it like to drive the alternate Picton to Christchurch route?

    Travelling the picturesque alternate route (via state highways 63, 6, 65 and 7, through Lewis Pass) between Picton and Christchurch takes on average 6.5 hours but allow extra time as delays are likely. Journey time on this route is quite consistent.

    The alternate route is challenging to drive in places – it is narrow and winding in many places, with single-lane bridges and there are speed restrictions. For everyone’s safety, strictly adhere to all road signage and speed restrictions.

    Drivers need to be patient, cautious and courteous – if needed, pull over and let traffic behind you pass when it is safe to do so to prevent drivers becoming frustrated and making poor overtaking decisions.

    Do not drive when you’re tired; tired drivers are slower to react, make poor judgement decisions and find it harder to concentrate. There are rest stops with fuel, food, coffee and toilets at Culverden, Springs Junction, Murchison and St Arnaud. Take your time: stop for regular breaks at towns along the route and make the journey part of your holiday.

    Be prepared for unexpected delays with food, water, and a fully charged cell phone.

    A busy work schedule is planned for the summer roading season, so expect to see stop/go signals along this route also until April 2019.

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Environment

  •   Is the seal pupping/seal pool at Ōhau accessible yet?

    The Ōhau Stream walk remains closed at this time and until further notice because it is unsafe with a high risk of rockfall due to earthquake damage. Public access is also currently restricted in this area due to the State Highway 1 reconstruction work.

    The Department of Conservation are working with the owners of the private land that contains the Ōhau Stream waterfall pool in considering the future of the site, including whether it’s feasible to repair the earthquake damage and reinstate the walking track to the pool.

    Seals are still being seen in large numbers on the Kaikōura coast including at Ōhau Point. Many Ōhau Point seals have moved to new territory to the north following the landslides and due to the road construction work at Ōhau Point. A considerable number of seals have remained at Ōhau Point.

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Background information

  •   Why was SH1 closed at night prior to 30 April 2018?

    Before this date, two of the most earthquake damaged sections of the road were closed overnight (7.30pm to 7.30am) as a safety precaution. They were (south of Kaikōura) between Clarence and Mangamaunu and (south of Kaikōura) between the SH1/Leader Road intersection, which is north of Cheviot, and Peketa.

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