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South Island Road News

Is the South Island Closed?

The earthquake of November 2016 has effected only a very small area of the South Island. So it is important that we spread the news that the vast majority of South Island is completely unaffected by the earthquake and is open for business as usual. If anything, this year could be considered a good time to travel to the South Island, as it is likely to be less busy. So please continue to support our South Island businesses by making the journey south.

Alternative driving routes following the earthquake

Whilst it's business as usual for most businesses, there is one persisting problem - State Highway 1 remains closed north of Kaikoura. There are of course alternative routes around the South Island and depending on where you are headed, you may not even be disrupted.

However, those intending to travel to Christchurch from Picton should plan for a significantly longer journey. This isn't terrible news - after all, the scenic route is very scenic, especially if going via Greymouth. However, it is important to be prepared for the road ahead and make the necessary provisions.

Ways to reach Christchurch

There are three alternative routes to Christchurch:

  • Picton > Blenheim > Christchurch: minimum of 7.5 hours. Follow SH1 to Blenheim, then SH63 to St Arnaud, SH6 to Murchison, SH65 to Lewis Pass, SH7 to Waipara and SH1 to Christchurch. Staying overnight in St Arnuad or Murchison is advised.
  • Picton > Nelson > Christchurch: minimum of 8.5 hours. Follow SH1 towards Blenheim and take SH62 to cut across to SH6. Follow SH6 all the way through Nelson, Murchison and on to Lewis Pass, then follow SH7 down to Christchurch. Nelson and Murchison are good places to stay en-route.
  • Picton > Greymouth > Christchurch: minimum of 10 hours. Follow SH1 towards Blenheim and take SH62 to cut across to SH6. Follow SH6 all the way to Greymouth and then follow SH73 across to Christchurch. Nelson and Greymouth are good places to stay en-route.

Kaikoura is Open

The Inland Kaikoura Road (Route 70) is now open again and State Highway 1 south of Kaikoura is now open with limited daytime access (6am to 8pm). The last vehicles will be admitted to travel along SH1 south from Peketa at 7.30pm. Vehicles travelling north from Christchurch are advised to leave the city by 5.30pm to ensure they get through to Kaikoura before the road closes at Oaro at 7.15pm.

Many businesses in Kaikoura are now open and the harbour will be dredged to allow Whalewatch and Dolphin Encounters to resume their normal services as soon as possible. Here are the key contacts for Kaikoura:

Make the most of the Journey

If you have time to spend an extra night en-route, then travelling across to the West Coast and back via Greymouth will deliver you some amazing views along the way. Taking the scenic route around the South Island is often a very good thing! However, please ensure you don't overdo it. Driving long distances in New Zealand can be fatiguing. The roads are windy and can unexpectedly narrow. At night the roads are unlit and can be particularly tiring. So try and arrange to stay overnight somewhere en-route and make the most of the diverted journey.

Stay Up-to-Date

Please check the following website for the latest updates:

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