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Tuesday, February 6, 2018

A Road less Traveled

The 2016 Kaikoura earthquake caused significant damage to the area, closing both State Highway 1 (SH1) and the Main North Rail Line between Picton and Christchurch. The damage caused by the 7.8-magnitude November 2016 Kaikoura earthquake to the Main North Line railway and SH1 along the east coast of the South Island was unprecedented in New Zealand. With close to a million cubic metres of rock and material falling onto the coastal transport corridor, Kaikoura and the surrounding rural communities became isolated - all roads and the rail network in and out of the area were damaged and closed by multiple slips.

A year after the earthquake the road is finally open once again, and we towed the van behind us on our way north today.  What would we find, we wondered?  It was a rainy, wet miserable day when we set out from Kaikoura.

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A wet day to travel

Although this part of SH1 is now open, and the contractors have been working day and night for the last 12 months, it was obvious that the work is far from completed.  As it was a public holiday, Waitangi Day, not many of the contractors were working, but the Stop/Go people were on duty when the road became single laned.  We passed by plenty of big machinery.

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The slip faces have mostly been cleared of loose material, and barriers have been put in place to protect workers and motorists from further landsides.  Containers are lined up in a row in places, and concrete blocks line the road further along.

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The multiple slips were massive, and it was impossible to photograph their true size as we drove past.  And we reflected on the mighty power which tore these hills apart, depositing huge areas of rock and dirt all over the highway.  It was a miracle that no cars were found buried under all this debris.

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Driving by yet another land slip

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The hills in the distance show signs of more slips

The road left the coast and took us slightly inland, and we stopped briefly at Ward – where we checked out the local weather forecast.  The weather station confirmed that it was “still raining”.

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Yes, it’s still raining

By the time we arrived at Blenheim the rain had stopped and it was warming up nicely.  The Waterlea Racecourse will be our place to stay for  the next two nights.

1 comment:

Janice said...

The power of an earthquake is really astounding. The town must be so pleased to be up and running again. You have to admire the workers getting the roads and other infrastructure repaired.