Night closures planned on SH1 south of Kaikoura to complete critical safety work

6 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineAugust 7, 2020

Work to install permanent rockfall protection is underway south of Kaikoura, with night closures starting mid-August to help minimise disruption to the majority of road users during the daytime and at weekends.

This work is being done both day and night over the next few months in order to complete the project, and ultimately finish the post-earthquake work of the North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery alliance (NCTIR) by 15 December, says Tresca Forrester, NZ Transport Agency journey manager.

Watch the video below of NCTIR project manager Jessica Pritchard explaining the different solutions for rockfall protection at the three different areas of this rockfall-prone cliff face.

Mid-August to late November

From Sunday 16 August, closures will be in place five nights a week, Sunday to Thursday, between 7pm and 7am, until late November. Traffic will be cleared through the night at certain times (see table below). The road will be open each weekend from 7am Friday to 7pm Sunday.

The work is being undertaken at a rockfall-prone corner between Peketa and the Parititahi Tunnels. A six-metre high canopy is being installed, along with a draped mesh fence and barriers to prevent any rockfall from hitting the road.

The work is being done in six stages. The first involves scaling – removing loose rock and milling/grinding rock – and will be complete by 14 August.

When night closures begin on the 16th, there are five stages remaining including installing anchor points, structures to support the canopy beams, lifting and connecting canopy beams, draping and connecting rockfall mesh, and final roading works.

Forrester says there have been more than 70 recorded rockfall incidents in the area since the 2016 earthquake, and the canopy is needed to make the road safe and resilient for the future.

“The safety of road users is our priority. Night closures mean we can get work done more quickly and minimise the disruption for more people. We have had to strike a balance between construction productivity and opening times as we have large machinery operating like cranes, drills and elevated work platforms that require the full width of both lanes to operate in.

“Our set opening times have been chosen carefully based on current and projected travel patterns, interisland ferry timetables and following discussions with the freight industry. We thank everyone for being patient while we undertake this critical safety work and advise them to plan ahead for a safe, enjoyable journey.”

Daytime one lane

During daytime operation of the road (between 7am and 7pm) traffic will continue to be one lane with traffic management in place.

Detours for night closures: Light vehicles via Waiau, heavy vehicles via Lewis Pass

If people need to travel during the closure times and don‘t want to time their travel for the set opening times, the Inland Road via Waiau (Route 70) is open 24/7 and would be the detour for light vehicles.

The alternative route for heavy vehicles between Picton/Blenheim and Waipara would be via SH7, SH65, SH6 and SH63. This route is open 24/7 and takes about 6.5 hours to travel.

The NZTA will monitor traffic flows and continue talking to people most affected by the night closures, as it may need to adjust the closure times, says Forrester. Times could change in summer with changes to the interisland ferry timetable.

Check for real-time journey information and updates on these planned closures.

SH1 south of Kaikoura – night closures from 16 August to late November, 
5 nights (Sunday – Thursday)



7:00pm to 9:00pm

Road will be closed for 30-minute intervals from 7pm to 9pm. Following a 30-minute closure the road will reopen to allow queued traffic through, and then close again for 30 minutes. This cycle is repeated until 9pm. (Average wait time 20 to 25 minutes.)

9:00pm to 9:30pm

Road OPEN for 30 minutes


9:30pm to 11:30pm




Road OPEN to clear queued traffic only. Traffic must be in the queue by 11:30pm to be let through.


11:35pm to 3am



3:00am to 3:30am

Road OPEN for 30 minutes


3:30am to 7:00am



7:00am to 7:00pm