NZTA on track to begin clearing quake slips

4:23 pm on 4 January 2017

The New Zealand Transport Agency is expecting to bring in heavy machinery next week to clear nine slips on State Highway 1 north of Kaikōura.

Railway tracks ripped from the line alond state highway 1 - north of Kaikoura

Damaged railway tracks near SH1, north of Kaikōura. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

The road has been closed since November's 7.8 magnitude quake - and the agency is not expecting it to be fully re-opened again until the end of 2017.

NZTA earthquake recovery manager Steve Mutton said helicopters had been using monsoon buckets to dislodge any loose material on the slips, a process known as sluicing.

He said people were working at the bottom of the slips, some of which were 300m high.

"We've got to make sure that there's no loose material that can come down on workers while they're clearing the site works."

Mr Mutton said now the sluicing work was nearly complete, contractors expected to be able to start bringing in equipment on Monday, to begin clearing the road from the ground.

The recently re-opened highway south of the town has been temporarily closed, due to poor weather conditions this afternoon.

NZTA said it had closed the road between Peketa and Goose Bay as a precaution due to the increased risk of rockfalls.

Drivers were being told to take the alternative inland route to Kaikōura, through Waiau and Mt Lyford.

The road was expected to be closed for the rest of the day.

It would be assessed again in the morning.