Alternative route between Christchurch and Picton established

Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter Trust assesses the damages caused by the 7.5 magnitude earthquake on Monday morning ...
Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helico

Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter Trust assesses the damages caused by the 7.5 magnitude earthquake on Monday morning in Kaikoura.

An alternative route has been established between Picton and Christchurch, via Murchison and the Lewis Pass, after it was cut off following Monday's earthquakes.​

The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) says some sections will only be open to a single lane, with active traffic management in place. Motorists are urged to use caution and take extra care as conditions are still changing. 

Contractors are continuing to work to re-establish a connection to Kaikoura, and the NZTA is working with Kaikoura District Council to open the inland road (old SH70) between Culverden and Kaikoura. 

Residents Chris and Viv Young look at damage caused by an earthquake along State Highway One near the town of Ward, ...
ANTHONY PHELPS/REUTERS

Residents Chris and Viv Young look at damage caused by an earthquake along State Highway One near the town of Ward, south of Blenheim.

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The NZTA is continuing to assess state highways across the top of the South Island and where possible, safely reopen parts of the highway closed by slips.

SH1, Picton to Blenheim/Seddon is now open but Seddon to Cheviot remains closed. Cheviot to Christchurch is open.

A slip near Mt Lyford, about an hour east of Kaikoura, caused by the 7.1 earthquake on November 11.
Iain McGregor

A slip near Mt Lyford, about an hour east of Kaikoura, caused by the 7.1 earthquake on November 11.

NZTA Highway Manager Neil Walker says it is too soon to tell how long it will take to assess the damage on all the upper South Island highways in order to open routes, or open up safe detour routes.

"Some have already been assessed and work has been planned for some sections of the highway with less severe damage. Other sites are currently inaccessible by road and/or 4WD and the safety risk needs to be carefully managed both in assessment and in the emergency repair work itself," he said.

"State Highway 7 will be open tonight so that we have an alternative route for traffic to travel north to Blenheim. Drivers need to be cautious as the route will be down to a single lane in places. This alternative route will take approximately three extra hours, so people need factor in a longer journey time into their travel plans and ensure that they have plenty of fuel, warm clothes, food and water," he said.

The Needles Bridge just north of Ward township after this mornings earthquake.
Derek Flynn/Fairfax NZ

The Needles Bridge just north of Ward township after this mornings earthquake.

"State Highway 7A, giving access to Hanmer Springs from State Highway 7, will be open until 7pm tonight but for light vehicles only, and under escort by contractors. It will be closed overnight due to ongoing risk of further rock falls. This route will then open again at 7am tomorrow morning under the same conditions. We will reassess this route during the day on Tuesday."

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

The Springs Junction to Waipara route reopened at 4pm, although NZTA are warning motorists to be cautious when using the route. 

Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter Trust assesses the damages caused by the 7.5 magnitude earthquake on Monday morning ...
Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helico

Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter Trust assesses the damages caused by the 7.5 magnitude earthquake on Monday morning in Kaikoura.

Roads on the East Coast of of the South Island near Kaikoura remain closed following massive slips and it could be weeks before they are ready to reopen.

There are unconfirmed reports of earthquake damage to Arthurs Pass, State Highway 73 and motorists are advised to travel only if necessary. 

KiwiRail said all trains throughout the South Island, and in the North Island south of Palmerston North on the main trunk line, were cancelled until further notice.

Intercity Bus services between Picton and Nelson are also cancelled as well as services heading north from Christchurch.

West Coast Shuttles from Greymouth to Christchurch are operating as usual for travellers trying to get to Christchurch. An overnight stay in Greymouth is required.

Interislander ferry sailings have been cancelled until a full assessment can be made of the terminals in Wellington and Picton.

Jetstar communications advisor Zoe Knobel said there were no issues with flights to and from Nelson Airport. 

Air New Zealand's Anna Cross said flights were continuing to operate in and out of Nelson and Blenheim airports. 

Sounds Air flights were running as scheduled.

Road Closures

- SH1 Seddon to Cheviot

 

 - Stuff

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