Trucking companies at a standstill
Freight is stalled in the South Island as trucking companies park up their loads until roads and rail lines are cleared.
As a result of the blockages, inquiries to coastal shipping company Pacifica Shipping have gone through the roof, chief executive Steve Chapman said.
"We're trying out best to find capacity on our own network as well as alternative options using the international coastal services that ply trade between the islands."
Chapman said it took about four days to land goods from Auckland to Lyttelton which included 48 hours sailing time and additional time loading and offloading.
Lyttelton Port is open for all services.
Trucking company Halls Group said road freight was largely at a standstill in the South Island and the lower North Island.
"Until we get roads we can't move. Who knows what lies ahead. It's very fluid. It's impossible to answer questions until we know what road links can be used," Halls South Island operations manager Bob Gairdner said.
Road Transport Forum chief executive Ken Shirley said there will be severe disruption to freight as many freight companies had halted their southern-destined trucks at Palmerston North.
"With the main Kaikoura route down and the inland Kaikoura route down, plus the problems with Lewis Pass there's not a lot of freight getting through."
Interisland ferry freight operations out of Wellington had also been halted but the road option south wouldn't be available anyway, Shirley said.
Roading authorities are working to repair enough of the inland Kaikoura route to restore some vehicle access, as well as provide a Lewis Pass alternative.
KiwiRail's network along the Kaikoura coast is in tatters but the line from Invercargill to Christchurch is open.
"The weeks ahead are a worry. Logistics these days is governed by the just-in-time ethos," Shirley said.
"For a lot of these fast moving consumer goods, a couple of days will mean there will be shortages.
"There are a myriad of specialised products and basic food items. Everything you can think of is moved on a truck.
"It just highlights how dependent we are on the movement of freight."
In addition to the slips and road blockages, the biggest 50MAX nine axle trucks are restricted on some of the diversion routes available partly because of the size of bridges and culverts and wear and tear on them.
"NZTA will be looking hard at this. More and more freight is being carried by 50 max trucks.
"The agency can allow them in emergency situations like they did after the 2011 earthquakes and restrict speeds across bridges and culverts. They will accept acceleration in wear and tear on pavements in some circumstances," Shirley said.
"I've talked to a couple of people at NZTA and they're considering options."
Shirley said there was also the risk a major aftershock would bring down more slips as happened during the aftermath of the 2011 earthquakes when a big slip came down at Kaikoura.
Meanwhile, a Countdown spokesman said Christchurch supplies would be assisted by the South Island distribution centre at Hornby.
In the South Island all Countdown stores were open, except three in Blenheim region. In the North Island, three stores were closed at Queensgate Mall, Wainuiomata Mall, and Porirua.
The disruptions to road, rail and ferry networks meant there may be some delays getting stock to some South Island stores but Countdown said it expected to be able to manage it.