Kaikoura residents are excited to report that Friday December 15, 2017 is the day that SH1 will be reopened for travel between Blenheim and Kaikoura and onward to Christchurch. Brilliant! The route has been closed since the earthquake of November 14, 2016.

The actual measure of last year’s earthquake in the Kaikoura, Hurunui and Marlborough regions was 7.8 on the Richter scale, but the damage to the main transport corridor was off the charts. Huge. Unprecedented. The earthquake resulted in a once-in-a-lifetime event that affected the main freight connection between the North and South Island, the tourism industry in the top of the South Island, and local economies relying on tourism traffic in Seddon, Ward, Kekerengu, Waipara, Kaikoura, Cheviot and Waiau.

Take to the water in a kayak to explore the coastline up close. 
Photo Kaikoura Kayaks

The impact has been massive. Millions (if not billions) of dollars lost and increases in freight costs due to the closure of SH1 affecting the viability of local businesses along the route including national trucking/freight companies; the commercial fishing, crayfish and paua industry in Kaikoura; Kiwirail visitor rail experiences; and tourism and retail/hospitality businesses. The customer tap has been literally turned off since November 14, 2016. Not for one week, or one month – it’s been over 12 months since these businesses have seen customers on a regular basis. It’s hard to imagine how any enterprise in today’s competitive environment could successfully manage its business in face of the events Mother Nature served up on November 14, 2016 (and the previous earthquakes in Christchurch in 2010 and 2011).

The Kaikoura district alone has experienced a 50 per cent decrease in visitor spend with pre-quake figures being $125 million per annum and now, year-end September 2017, it is $63 million. There have been some winners but more losers. But the prospect of the visitor market being switched on again is helping the affected communities hold the faith with a pragmatic yet optimistic approach to the upcoming summer season.


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