Kaikōura - reconnected by Christmas!

Kaikōura - reconnected by Christmas!

In November 2016, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake devastated the Hurunui- Kaikōura district. A resulting landslide blocked a huge stretch of the coastal route that connects Picton, Kaikōura, and Christchurch on State Highway 1, forcing commuters to take a convoluted and time-consuming alternative route. Thanks to the tireless efforts of the North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery (NCTIR) alliance, December 15 will see the highway reopen to all, including the much affected commercial freight operators, and the holidaymaking campervans. The rail track is set to follow suit, and will re-open in mid-2018.

The earthquake’s damage was so catastrophic, that re-opening the road 1 year, 1 month and 1 day on, is an awe-inspiring result for the NCTIR team to be proud of. The alliance is comprised of 26 professional firms, and Tonkin + Taylor is a key provider of engineering expertise, drawing on the experience and involvement with the Canterbury earthquake recovery programme since 2011.

When the earthquake struck, Tonkin + Taylor initially advised the Government on the extent of the damage, it was from there they joined the NCTIR alliance. Since then, they have been “moving mountains to reconnect communities” which literally means shifting thousands of cubic meters of soil, to reopen the road and rail networks. In addition to cleaning up the landslide to open the highway, the alliance has also been tasked with building in resilience to future proof the network in the event of seismic activity, to ensure that Kaikōura will never be isolated again. 

NCTIR's success has been the result of round the clock hard work, and according to T+T’s Andrew Kennedy, Rail Technical Lead at NCTIR, they’ve not rested on their laurels! Once they hit a milestone, they moved straight on to the next; there was no respite because so many people were depending on them to reconnect the road network. But the team can now breathe a sigh of relief, their huge effort has paid off – and just in time for Christmas!

For more information about the reopening of the highway, check out the FAQs from New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) here