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Upper South Island Summer Holiday Travel

9th January, 2017


All travellers on the alternate route (state highways 7, 65, 6, and 63) between Christchurch and Picton these summer holidays are being asked to take extra care, be prepared for delays and to be patient. 

The average journey time between Christchurch and Picton is currently seven and a half hours. Everyone is urged to allow extra time for delays and the greater volumes of traffic. This is now the main freight route for the South Island - expect a lot more trucks than normal. 

With currently four times the usual volume of vehicles travelling the alternate route since the Kaik?ura earthquake, and numbers expected to continue to increase as families head away for their traditional Christmas/ summer break, travel times and delays will only get worse. 

Much of the route is not suitable for cyclists. We therefore recommend taking the longer touring route down the West Coast. Refer to the touring route map online at www.nzta.govt. nz/eq-travel. If wanting to head to Christchurch, please contact a public transport provider and travel by bus to Christchurch to keep safe. 

Everyone needs to slow down, take their time and strictly adhere to all road signage and speed restrictions. 

The alternate route over Lewis Pass and through Murchison is challenging to drive: it’s narrow and windy in many places and there are few safe places to overtake. Please pull over and let traffic behind you pass when it is safe to do so; this prevents drivers becoming frustrated and making poor overtaking decisions. 

There are also a number of roadwork sites along the route as we repair and reseal many sections of the road and widen it where possible, to make it safer for the greater volumes of traffic which will need to use the alternate route for some months yet. 

We’re asking you to remember to share the road with all vehicles and cyclists, and take joint responsibility for ensuring everyone gets to their destination safely this holiday season. 

Stop for regular breaks and make the journey itself part of your holiday. 

There are rest stops with fuel, food, coffee and toilets at Culverden, Springs Junction, Murchison and St Arnaud.



Road access is being restored to Kaik?ura this week. The Inland Route 70 re-opened on Monday and State Highway 1 to the south of the seaside town is expected to open this afternoon (Wednesday 21 December). 

The Inland Route, between Waiau and Kaik?ura, is now open 24/7 with unrestricted access both ways. There are speed restrictions and no stopping areas which everyone using the route is asked to strictly adhere to. The average travel time for the 90km route from Waiau to Kaik?ura is about two hours. 

The route remains hazardous and fragile and all road users are asked to take extra care and be prepared for the unexpected. 

Access along State Highway 1 to the south of Kaik?ura is expected to be restored this afternoon but with night-time restrictions until all slip faces have been stabilised and traffic signals have been installed along a 1km coastal section of the route where we have single-lane access only. 

Access will be two-way and only during daylight hours, 6am to 8pm. The last vehicles will be admitted to travel along SH1 south from Peketa at 7.30pm. Vehicles travelling north from Christchurch are advised to leave the city by 5.30pm to ensure they get through to Kaik?ura before the road closes at Oaro at 7.15pm. 

There is no stopping or camping along the route because of the risk from potential rockfall in the event of any further seismic activity or heavy rain. 

Before you go, check daily road conditions on the website:

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