Recently, New Zealanders marked the second anniversary of the Kaikōura earthquake that hit at two minutes past midnight on November 14, 2016. The 7.8 magnitude quake ripped through the earth from Culverden, 70km south of Kaikōura, to Seddon, 90km north of Kaikōura, and out to sea. GeoNet described the 160km rupture as the earth ‘unzipping’ itself, with earth movements (both vertical and horizontal) being recorded up to 12 metres in some parts, and the entire seabed around the Kaikōura Peninsula and up the coast to Ward experiencing an upthrust of 1–5 metres. This was the most complex earthquake, generating the strongest ground acceleration ever recorded in New Zealand.

Bruce and I have spent a reasonable amount of time staying or road-tripping through from Picton to Kaikōura over the last 20 years. In September we house and dog-sat for friends who own Surf Watch accommodation 16km north of Kaikōura, for 10-days. A week prior to the 2016 earthquake, on our way south we stayed at Kekerengu Café RV parking area, beside the railway, which we have done often over the years. So when we felt the earthquake at home in Martinborough in the middle of the night and followed the news the next day, we felt a genuine and personal connection to the region and the people in it, many of whom we had gotten to know during our visits.

Since the earthquake we have continued our visits, taking a road trip as soon as State Highway 1 reopened in December 2017, one year after the event. I have shared many photographs and road trip videos of the road and rail repairs in RV Travel Lifestyle magazine in our ‘RocknRobyn Chronicles’ and thought that for the two-year anniversary I would look at the outstanding work done by the NCTIR (North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery alliance) that has recently seen them become the global winner of the (ICE) Institution of Civil Engineers 2018 People’s Choice Award. This is an incredible achievement and recognition of the work done on this project and the record-breaking time frame of repairs of major engineering infrastructure that has been achieved. To give you an idea of the competition, other projects in the running included the Hyderabad Metro Rail Project in India, the Forth Replacement Crossing in the UK, the Harbour Area Treatment Scheme in Hong Kong and others in Nepal, and the UK.

Earlier this year in May, the Main North Line Earthquake recovery project was announced as winner of the Rail Technical Society of Australasia’s Biennial Project Award for its work reinstating the line following the 7.8 November 2016 quake. The judging panel described the project as an “inspiring example of how railway people respond energetically and successfully to the most severe challenges”.


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