North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery (NCTIR): Kaikōura


New Zealand Government, NZTA and KiwiRail

Project overview

On 14 November 2016, a complex sequence of approximately 21 fault ruptures with a combined magnitude of 7.8 Mw rocked Hurunui- Kaikōura. At Kaikōura, a massive shoreline shelf was thrust upwards, while parts of the South Island were shunted more than 5m closer to the North Island and other parts raised by up to 8m. State Highway One (SH1) and the Main North Line (MNL) running to the north and south of Kaikōura were blocked by slips, as was the inland Kaikōura road. Massive changes to the sea shore and seabed rendered the town’s port commercially inoperable.

With road and rail links severed, Kaikōura District and its approximately 3,700 people, was only accessible by air and sea.

Following the devastating Hurunui-Kaikōura earthquake, Tonkin + Taylor (T+T) has been part of the North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery Alliance (NCTIR) working to reinstate road and rail networks, while “building back better”. T+T has to date assisted in completing the following:

• Flyover and rapid assessment inspection to feed into pre NCTIR planning

• Geotechnical inspections of the rail corridor (north and south of Kaikōura), including 20 tunnels and culverts 

• Fast-tracking and control of over 60 consents to keep works moving forward

• Community, mana whenua and stakeholder engagement/liaison

• Development of a suite of standardised remedial work solutions for rail embankment damage to fast-track repairs

• Inspection and monitoring of the remediation of large landslips 

• Project management and design services for emergency repairs to Kaikōura Harbour

• GIS and 3D mapping of tunnels, landslip and slopes

• 24 Hour monitoring of landslide and rockfall sites to ensure safe conditions for public traffic during opening hours

• Site specific repair of failed rail embankment at over 22 sites, including Blind River, Taimate, Tar Barrel and Clarence

• Tirohanga fault rupture zone, design of approximately 1km of new rail and road embankment including pile design for two new bridges.  Carried out geotechnical investigations, prepared construction designs, including temporary alignments for road and rail, and on-site monitoring of the construction works

• Assisted in the design and construction of a 2.5km long seawall to realign the road and rail away from large slip sites north of Kaikōura. The seawalls, up to 10m above sea level, were constructed by placing 7,500 five tonne blocks and required works to be undertaken in the tidal zone  

• Geotechnical design inputs for remedial solutions  for rail tunnel linings and rockfall shelters

• Supervision of construction works including, landslips, tunnel repairs, rail embankment work, bridge replacement and repair and culvert replacement and repair

• Environmental and ecological services, including assisting in the relocation of over 14,000 seals in populations along the coast, and 4,300 native fish moved to safe environments during construction 

Services provided

Consent applications, consultation with communities and stakeholders, construction cost estimates, auditing and inspection, investigations, hazard assessment, laboratory testing, field testing, hydraulic and coastal modelling, geotechnical engineering, structural engineering, operational documentation, design services and asset planning, project management, and risk assessment management. 


The project required working to an extremely tight programme to deliver this massive legacy project in record time. Key to this has been our ability to work within a large multi-disciplinary team with consultants and contractors from different organisations, working collaboratively to achieve “collective brilliance” for Kaikōura. In particular, adopting pragmatic design solutions using materials that were readily available and could be built with the available construction plant.

Kaikōura Mayor Winston Gray described the effort as “massive” and said his town will undoubtedly be better and more resilient, both to natural hazards and economically, as a result. In fact, it’s already thriving. New infrastructure such as coastal car parks and enhanced links to the sea are bonuses, attracting both investors and more tourists to the town famed for its whale watching.


  • ACENZ Silver Award 2019
  • ICE - People's Choice Award 2018

Alliance Members

The NCTIR Phase 1 and 2 Alliance included asset owners KiwiRail and NZTA, together with Contractors HEB, Fulton Hogan, Higgins and Downer.  Phase 2 Professional Services Alliance being Tonkin + Taylor, WSP (Opus) and Aurecon also served as consultants.