Volunteer convoy rescues 160 camper vans and cars from Kaikoura

Abandoned rental vehicles parked at a Kaikoura primary school, some of the 340 stranded in the town after earthquakes ...
Ross Giblin

Abandoned rental vehicles parked at a Kaikoura primary school, some of the 340 stranded in the town after earthquakes cut off road access to the popular tourist town.

More than 100 volunteers from the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association have put in 10 hour days driving stranded rental vehicles from Kaikoura to Christchurch.

With 340 cars and campervans stuck in Kaikoura after last month's earthquake, rental operators faced a logistical nightmare getting them out over the fragile inland road until the association organised volunteer drivers.

Christchurch branch manager for Jucy World Kate Stevens is coordinating the convoys on behalf of about 15 rental companies and said they were extremely grateful for the help.

Tomorrow's third rental vehicle convoy from Kaikoura has been postponed by the threat of bad weather.
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Tomorrow's third rental vehicle convoy from Kaikoura has been postponed by the threat of bad weather.

Of the 80 motor caravan association members who volunteered, half had done two trips, and the road was not as bad as they had feared.

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"There's definitely some hairy points with slips, but the NZTA​ (New Zealand Transport Agency)and road crews had done a fantastic job keeping it open and safe.

"There are a couple of points were it's quite tight but no one has felt unsafe."

Stevens said the first bunch of volunteers on Monday left Christchurch on buses at 6am and were back in the city by about 4.15pm.

Tuesday's convoy was expected to take a little longer and Wednesday's had been postponed because of forecast bad weather. 

"We didn't want [volunteers] to get stuck there, so we just have to be patient," she said. 

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Camper vans returned to Christchurch were in remarkably good condition, partly because rental staff in Kaikoura had removed rotting food and emptied waste tanks.

"We expected them to be a bit rough, but they weren't bad," Stevens said.

Tourism Industry Aotearoa has also convened a Kaikoura tourism action group which will monitor the industry and government response to the earthquake.

It will meet regularly over the summer to handle any earthquake-related issues affecting Kaikoura and the upper South Island.

 - Stuff

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