Driving home for Christmas: SH1 opening date revealed

RNZ

Kaikoura MP Stuart Smith speaks to Morning Report's Susie Ferguson about his comment that State Highway 1 north of Kaikoura will re-open on December 15.

Mark it in your calendar (maybe in pencil for now). Road trip to Kaikoura: December 15.

An opening date for State Highway 1, north of Kaikoura, has been let slip at an election campaign event in Blenheim.

Kaikoura MP Stuart Smith made the seemingly off the cuff remark on Thursday, but the NZ Transport Agency would neither confirm nor deny the date. 

North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery alliance crews opened up a working track around Ohau Point last week.
SUPPLIED

North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery alliance crews opened up a working track around Ohau Point last week.

It does tie in with their oft-repeated claim of "open by Christmas" though, and if correct, Christmas motorists will have plenty of time to make the trip between Picton and Christchurch.

READ MORE:
Earthquake-damaged State Highway 1 expected to be 'fully functional' in time for Christmas
Milestone for State Highway 1 rebuild
Rock solid nerves: Ohau Point abseilers tackle massive mesh mission
Six months on, NCTIR's road and rail rebuild on target
Government confirms $812m for State Highway 1 fix

A NZTA spokesman would only say work was on track, and that more information would be revealed by the end of September to help holidaymakers plan in advance.

The alternative route through the Lewis Pass, which is about 160 kilometres longer than the journey on SH1, takes more than six hours to drive – two hours more than going down the coast.

Smith made the comment at a meet the candidates-style event, organised by the Marlborough Older Person Seminar, in Blenheim.

Re-opening the earthquake-damaged highway and the Main North Line has been a massive job, one that kicked off in earnest north of Kaikoura in February.

A slip blocks SH1 near Kaikoura following the 7.8-magnitude earthquake on November 14. (FIle photo)
LAWRENCE SMITH/STUFF

A slip blocks SH1 near Kaikoura following the 7.8-magnitude earthquake on November 14. (FIle photo)

Before that, helicopters trailing monsoon buckets had carried out extensive sluicing to dislodge loose rocks, but it was not until February that crews hit the ground.

Ad Feedback

Last week, a spokesman for the alliance charged with rebuilding the road and rail networks said crews north of Kaikoura had shifted more than 800,000 cubic metres of debris.

There were 10 major slips north of the coastal town that reached down to the level of the road and rail. Access around the last of these, at Ohau Point, was only established last week.

Cracks in the highway south of Clarence. (File photo)
STUFF

Cracks in the highway south of Clarence. (File photo)

Transport Minister Simon Bridges has repeatedly said SH1 would be re-opened by Christmas, however many questioned what exactly 'open' would look like given the devastation.

NZTA earthquake recovery manager Steve Mutton said in May that, in contrast with what happened south of Kaikoura, the highway would be fully functional.

"We know how critical this corridor is, not only for Kaikoura, but for the South Island and New Zealand, so when we open it, it will be two lanes, and with full functionality – it won't have stop-goes," he said.

The weld representing the symbolic rejoining of the Main North Line, which opens to freight trains within weeks. (File photo)
ALDEN WILLIAMS/STUFF

The weld representing the symbolic rejoining of the Main North Line, which opens to freight trains within weeks. (File photo)

While Smith may have just given a date for the highway, KiwiRail has been more vague about when exactly freight trains will start running again on the Main North Line.

Earlier this month, the railway line between Picton and Christchurch was rejoined in a moving, symbolic welding ceremony that came after about eight months of work.

A KiwiRail spokesman said work trains could now travel the length of the route, however a commissioning process had to be completed before freight trains could start using the line.

A twisted and broken section of the Main North Line following the earthquake. (File photo)
ROSS GIBLIN/STUFF

A twisted and broken section of the Main North Line following the earthquake. (File photo)

"We are currently going through the commissioning process," he said.

"This is where we check all the systems are working as they should (including safety checks) and undertake locomotive engineer route re-certification.

"Weather has caused some delays to the commissioning process but we are confident the line will open for freight within weeks."

Members of the KiwiRail rebuild team complete a symbolic weld to represent the joining of the line between Picton and ...
ALDEN WILLIAMS/STUFF

Members of the KiwiRail rebuild team complete a symbolic weld to represent the joining of the line between Picton and Kaikoura in August.

KiwiRail chief executive Peter Reidy said in early August two freight trains would run each night initially, which was about 60 per cent capacity compared to pre-quake volumes.

However, this would still take some 2000 trucks a month off the alternative highway, easing pressure on a route which was never designed to be the main thoroughfare for freight.

The total cost to restore the earthquake-damaged road and rail networks around Kaikoura was between $1.1 billion and $1.33b.

NCTIR crews have shifted more than 800,000 cubic metres of debris north of Kaikoura that came down during the earthquake ...
ROSS GIBLIN/STUFF

NCTIR crews have shifted more than 800,000 cubic metres of debris north of Kaikoura that came down during the earthquake and ensuing rain events. (File photo)

Bridges had also announced $231 million of improvements for the highway, including a 11km combined walking and cycling trail between Mangamaunu and Okiwi Bay.

* Audio courtesy of Radio NZ

A section of the Main North Line suspended between slips following the earthquake. (File photo)
SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF

A section of the Main North Line suspended between slips following the earthquake. (File photo)

 - The Marlborough Express

Comments

Ad Feedback
special offers
Auckland

Driver still missing video

The car was almost underneath the Harbour Bridge, after having driven off Curran St, Westhaven. It was later towed, ...

After a car drove into Auckland harbour, a fisherman tried to smash windows and save the person inside.

Air NZ 'restricting sales' video

Air New Zealand is flying long-haul planes to the capital purely to refuel, as the airline struggles to cope with the ...

Air NZ is taking the extraordinary step of restricting ticket sales and halting sales of some international services.

Sport: Indoor bowls team take title

Holy Cross School's champion netballers, winners of the AIMS Games netball tournament which featured 122 teams.

Holy Cross have won the AIMS Games netball title for the second time in three years.

NZ's health ranking low

New Zealand is ranked 32nd out of 188 countries on a range of global health measures related to the UN's health-related ...

New Zealand's child sex abuse rates are among the world's worst, according to a United Nations report.

Wellington

'They picked my teeth off the road'

Linda Gibson is worried a child could die after she collided with a cyclist on the controversial Island Bay cycleway.

Pedestrian injured in Island Bay bike collision blames cycleway design.

Kebab shop roasted

Upper Hutt kebab store owners must pay a Turkish couple more than $80,000 following the Employment Relations Authority's ...

Upper Hutt eatery fired worker because she wanted another child. Now it faces a $60,000 bill.

'Hard' housing choices 

2308 2013 Photo Ross Giblin, copyright Dominion Post, Fairfax.
Wellington City Council chief executive Kevin Lavery.

Chief exec warns Wellington councillors affordable housing agenda won't be easy to deliver.

'Suspect' suitcase full of clothes

A suspicious suitcase left outside the Treasury in Wellington has been found to be full of clothes.

Police stopped Wellington traffic to examine a case left outside the Treasury.

Canterbury

Flying fox saga divides community

A noisy flying fox at Muka Park in Christchurch has been tearing the local community apart.

Warring neighbourhood groups and tens of thousands of dollars have failed to reach a compromise over a noisy flying fox.

Cheap spots in favour

Cheaper suburbs are finding favour with Christchurch home buyers.

Home buyers opting for cheapest suburbs, while demand slows for pricier spots.

Motel used as crime base

Police followed a stolen car to a Christchurch motel and found a room full of stolen property.

Burglars booked a motel room under a false name and used it as a base to raid dozens of homes, police allege.

Drowned couple remembered

Avneel Ram, 25, and Sheetal Ram, 30, died after their car plunged into a lake in Halswell.

A much-loved couple who drowned in a suburban Christchurch lake will "continue to live" in the hearts of their family.

Waikato

Chapel's heavenly afterlife

St Mary's Convent Chapel in Hamilton East has been reopened after earthquake strengthening. It used to be connected to ...

Hamilton's historic convent is gone but the chapel that was attached to it has been given a new lease of life.

Gastro risk real

Dr Steve Hrudey, a drinking water expert from University of Alberta, Canada, is boiling drinking water during when ...

An expert says there's nothing stopping another outbreak like Havelock North, and tourists ought to be told.

Housing's election effect

The election has put a damper on Hamilton's housing market.

However, a lift in prices and buyer activity is expected post-election.

New  true blue ducklings

The two whio are believed to be one male and one female. Seen here at 22 days old.

It's estimated there are only 1200 adult whio left.

Taranaki

Three days, three parties

Her family travelled from as far as Kaikohe and Christchurch to celebrate her birthday with her.

One with family, one with friends and one with the rest home to finish off her 109th birthday celebrations.

Myrtle rust could surge

Manukorihi golf club was temporarily closed due to positive tests for myrtle rust in June.

The eradication of myrtle rust might not be possible, the Ministry for Primary Industries says.

Oktoberfest? Nein.

At the Oktoberfest beer festival in 2014, Sam Hagmann played traditional Swiss instrument alphorn to kick off the ...

The annual German festival party has been replaced with a "sophisticated" food and drink pairing event.

High school's redevelopment

Waitara High School Principal Daryl Warburton pictured.
The school is having a lot of changes over the next year.
Daryl ...

Waitara High Principal Daryl Warburton says the redevelopment will make a community space for adults as well as kids.

Manawatu

Voters celebrate Suffrage Day

Sandy Wilde casts her vote on Suffrage Day.

Kiwi women were first in the world to vote in national elections. They celebrated on Tuesday by voting.

Gift horse has bolted video

Punters in Palmerston North brave the cold to enjoy the eats on offer at a food truck Thursday event in The Square.

OPINION: Food truck events are hugely popular, but it seems we don't need them.

The day after the election

What if the election is a dead heat? What would Labour leader Jacinda Ardern and National leader Bill English do then?

OPINION: With deals to be done, the really key day is not September 23, but the day after.

Arrest after fleeing police

Police chased a stolen car on State Highway 1, near Sanson, after it failed to stop.

Two police pursuits in two days after drivers in stolen cars fail to stop.

Nelson

Person critical

A 40-year-old male was flown to Wellington Hospital in a critical condition following an accident involving two trucks ...

A two-truck crash on SH6 south of Murchison has left a person in a critical condition.

Right to vote marked

Elizabeth Coleman, a relative by marriage of Kate Sheppard, leads walkers from the Church Steps in Nelson during the ...

Suffrage Day walk at Nelson draws 80 people, including a relative of Kate Sheppard.

Leader by example

Green Party leader James Shaw, left, and Nelson candidate Matt Lawrey walk along Rocks Rd in Nelson where Shaw announced ...

Green Party leader James Shaw pledges $23m to fix Rocks Rd.

Brook Stream clear after drop

Landcare Research water testing of the Brook Stream (pictured) post poison drop shows "no detectable residue" the Brook ...

No detectable poison residue found in the Brook Stream after drop the sanctuary says.

Marlborough

Owners highly motivated

New Zealand King Salmon's new barge is launched with air bags acting as rollers.

Four bedrooms, two bathrooms, 240 tonnes of fish feed. Wait, what?

Beaten for saying no

Blenheim man Tui Simon Kara admitted assault with intent to injure at the Blenheim District Court. (File photo)

Blenheim man violently attacks partner after being refused oral sex.

'Burt Munro of the skies' video

Burt Munro with his 1920 Indian Scout motorcycle.

In classic Burt Munro fashion, Graeme Frew's No 35 World War II fighter plane almost didn't make it to the start.

Driver critical after crash

A 40-year-old male was flown to Wellington Hospital in a critical condition following an accident involving two trucks ...

A two-truck crash on SH65 south of Murchison left a person in a critical condition.

South Canterbury

Parking meters stolen

Six parking meters have been stolen in Timaru, four from Bank St, and the other two from Strathallan St.

Police are looking for information after the theft of six parking meters in Timaru.

Rules could change

Minister Nick Smith said he endorsed the idea low-emission burners should only be introduced when old burners have ...

Meeting told Nick Smith will progress changes to national air standards.

Two escape fire video

Two people are in hospital after a well involved house fire near Timaru on Tuesday morning.

Elderly man carried wife over his shoulder as their house burned to the ground.

Fairlie helps crash victims

Fairlie Volunteer Fire Brigade firefighter Jeff Haugh, school bus driver Astrid Johns and firefighter Sam Haugh were ...

Bus driver, dairy owner and emergency staff among those who responded to bus crash.

Otago

Clyde's 'day of reckoning'

Central Otago mayor Tim Cadogan above Clyde.

The Central Otago township of Clyde faces a potential $34 million sewage system upgrade to meet national water policy standards.

Pair rescued from waterfall

Two people have been rescued from the top of a waterfall near Queenstown. (File photo)

Two people have been rescued from a steep track above a waterfall at a popular rockclimbing spot near Queenstown.

No Southern Utd games for Invercargill

Southern United's Michael Hogan challenges Leo Villa from Team Wellington in the air during their match at Rugby Park in ...

While Southern United won't play any national league matches in Invercargill this summer, they are still likely to visit the deep south.

Changes under way at hospital

An independent review of Dunedin Hospital's urology department has been carried out after several patients experienced ...

Health Minister expresses ''full confidence'' in Dunedin Hospital management after concerns were raised over life-threatening delays.

Southland

Upgrade planned for Elles Rd intersection

Lake St was the site of a crash between a train and a logging truck earlier in September.

One of Invercargill's most hazardous intersections is set for a major upgrade.

Tiwai celebrates

NZ Aluminium Smelters general manager Gretta Stephens, with Southland Girls' High School students Imogen Brankin, Tayla ...

Southland Girls' High School and New Zealand Aluminium Smelters are celebrating 10 years of working together.

Grandad makes innovative playground

Neil Hall watches his grandson, Jack Shepherd, having fun in the playground he built using a 1946 Austin truck.

Jack Shepherd is having a ball in the playground made by his grandad.

Seal lion shot

Department of Conservation staff have found a second critically endangered sea lion shot on a Catlins beach.

DOC staff have found a second critically endangered sea lion shot.

Ad Feedback