The quake-damaged stretch of State Highway One south of Kaikōura could be reopened within the next couple of weeks.
The Transport Minister Simon Bridges told Parliament on Tuesday afternoon that contractors were making very good progress in clearing the several large slips and rockfalls.
"We are making much better progress than expected, with the Transport Agency hoping to restore controlled single-lane access for residents and essential services by mid-December, but this will be dependent on weather and any further earthquakes," Mr Bridges said.
But he said restoring full access on State Highway One north of Kaikōura would take considerably more time to complete, due to the scale and complexity of the slips.
"The slips are unprecedented in New Zealand and the task ahead of us is huge."
Mr Bridges said crews also continued to work on clearing the 50 large slips and inspect bridges on the inland road link to Kaikōura.
"Although the inland road is still fragile, good progress is being made and controlled access in and out of Kaikōura has now been established.
"The Transport Agency is working hard to have the inland road opened on a restricted basis to all vehicles in time for Christmas, but, again, this will be dependent on weather or any further earthquakes that could affect progress," he told Parliament.