Kaikōura road opened up to Mt Lyford locals

9:16 am on 24 November 2016

Mt Lyford residents are able to use the Kaikōura inland road without an escort for the first time since last week's earthquake.

The inland road out of Kaikoura

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Army convoys have been making supply trips on the quake-damaged road and there has been limited access for residents.

"The wait for uncontrolled access for residents has been frustrating for everyone, but safety has been paramount in all our decision making," Canterbury Civil Defence group controller Neville Reilly said.

"We've felt the pressure from the residents, from the people of that area, the farmers and we really wanted to support them in getting their life back to normal as best we can," he told Morning Report.

Mr Reilly said geotechnical engineers were continually assessing the route to check the safety of the road and landslip damage.

With the exception of MLyford residents, military supply convoys and escorted trips for deliveries of essential supplies, the route road remains closed to the public.

"The road is badly damaged and does require a lot of repair.

"There is a Bailey bridge across one of the rivers which is a little bit fragile so that's the reason it's not open to the public and not many of the public would want to drive up there anyway"

Access for residents could change, depending on the continuing aftershocks and changing weather conditions.

Civil defence said since residents would not be escorted they should take great care because of the risk of slips and hazardous conditions.

Resident Donald MacIntosh said it would be a big change for locals who had been frustrated they could not get in and out without an escort.

Mr MacIntosh's house in Mt Lyford was badly damaged and he now lives with friends 5km out of town.

"The locals inside [the Waiau to Mt Lyford village] barrier have been driving up and down, getting on with work, farmers going around.

"It's only when we go outside that barrier and want to come back home again that say 'you've got to have an escort'."

The road was damaged, he said, but was safer than the section after Mt Lyford, where there were areas that were very dangerous. Access to that part of the road is still restricted.

Civil Defence has divided the road into two areas based on risk:

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Graphic: Canterbury Civil Defence

Area 1 - Waiau checkpoint to Mt Lyford

*Lower risk

*Checkpoint controlled by the Hurunui District Council

*4WD vehicle is preferred. Some sections will be difficult with a low clearance vehicle/2WD.

Area 2 - Mt Lyford turn off onwards

*High risk due to road and river conditions and possible landslides.

*4WD is essential.

*Access limited to residents of the inland road and their essential services as well as emergency supplies to Kaikōura

*Multiple work sites with control measures. Delays on the route are possible.

*Residents strongly encouraged to minimise stopping unless directed by road maintenance contractors

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