Following the November 2016 7.8 magnitude earthquakes that rocked Hurunui-Kaikōura, 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 seashore and seabed rendered the town’s port commercially inoperable. With road and rail links severed, Kaikōura District and its approximately 3,700 people were only accessible by air and sea.

As part of the NCTIR Alliance, Tonkin + Taylor worked to reinstate road and rail networks and seawalls and shared paths while ‘building back better’. The team undertook rapid disaster mapping of land damage within hours of the earthquake and has been a lead consultant for the NCTIR Alliance across both the Phase 1 emergency response and Phase 2 of the recovery.

The project required working to a tight programme to deliver the massive legacy project in record time. Our ability to work collaboratively within a large multi-disciplinary team with consultants and contractors from different organisations was key, helping achieve “collective brilliance” for Kaikōura. The adoption of pragmatic design solutions using materials that were readily available and could be built with the available construction plant was highly acclaimed.


  • Consent applications
  • Resource consent planning 
  • Consultation with communities and stakeholders 
  • Construction cost estimates
  • Emergency land assessments 
  • Auditing and inspection 
  • Investigations 
  • Hazard assessment 
  • Laboratory testing 
  • Hydraulic and coastal modelling
  • Coastal processes and coastal hazard assessments
  • Coastal and maritime engineering  
  • Geotechnical engineering 
  • Structural engineering
  • Operational documentation 
  • Design services and asset planning 
  • Project management 
  • Risk assessment management
  • Field testing


  • New Zealand Government
  • Waka Kotahi
  • KiwiRail


  • 2016 – 2020


  • 2018 – ICE – People’s Choice Award
  • 2019 – ACENZ Silver Award

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