Great job on roading but Kaikoura still needs help
OPINION: Recently I took a road trip from Christchurch through to Kaikoura via State Highway 1 and then back through the inland Kaikoura road to Christchurch.
The purpose of my trip was to see the condition of the roads and look at those fundamental issues of connectivity between Christchurch and Kaikoura.
The Kaikoura situation is different to the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquakes.
The single biggest issue for Kaikoura is its isolation and the fact that without good connectivity tourist businesses, in particular, suffer badly. The community generally is operating at significantly less than half of its normal economic activity.
This is putting pressure on businesses and reinforces the need to ensure Kaikoura is effectively reconnected to the rest of New Zealand as soon as possible.
However, there is good news. I was really impressed with the quality of SH1 and the enormous amount of repair work that has been carried out since the November earthquakes.
The road through to Cheviot and then to Parnassus (with a deviation at Parnassus because of the dodgy approach to an overbridge) is in good condition.
I was particularly impressed with the road through the Hundalee Hills. That has always been an essential but challenging piece of highway and it is a great credit to the road crews that it stood up relatively well and, more importantly, that they have carried out significant remediation work.
It is an easy drive through to Oaro. It is hard to believe that so much damage to our roads could have been repaired so quickly.
The only obvious signs of how the roads moved are the guard rails that are still very much where they moved to in the earthquakes – that is, literally all over the place.
Travelling from Oaro to Kaikoura is also not difficult. There are only a few kilometres of one-way road and a single tunnel that impedes some traffic flows.
Given the enormity of the earthquake and the amount of rock and rubble that fell onto our road systems in November the work that is being done to get them back into action is quite remarkable.
We should applaud those involved in getting the job done quickly and efficiently.
As the repairs are carried out the formation of a proposed Coastal Pacific Trail for tramping and cycling should be seriously considered.
The Kaikoura inland road has been the subject of an extraordinary feat of engineering. It is fully negotiable, albeit with some speed restrictions and some work in progress.
The earthquake had the force in Hurunui to Kaikoura to throw heavy cast-iron stoves across farmhouses and through walls.
It caused serious damage to almost 100 farmhouses in the Hurunui-Lyford area.
However, the road is negotiable and it is a spectacular vista of the power of nature.
We now will see full concentration on getting SH1 accessible from Kaikoura through to Picton, and I hope that that goal is achieved well before Christmas.
That will enable Kaikoura and other towns to get back to normal business.
In the meantime, we must ensure that affected businesses are well supported.
The inland road has been the subject of an extraordinary feat of engineering.
The recently dredged slipway at South Bay, Kaikoura, is one of many repair jobs under way since November’s earthquake.