State Highway problems

Our State Highways are our main roads through the country. State Highway 1 (SH1) is the main road from north to south.

After the major earthquakes in Kaikoura in November 2016, SH1 from Picton to Christchurch has been closed. It will be closed all this year while workers clear slips. Passengers on the inter-island ferry from Wellington to Picton, now have to take the inland road on SH63 and then the Lewis Pass. The result is that the trip to Christchurch by car, which used to take 4 and a half to 5 hours, now takes 7 and a half hours. The railway line is also closed because the earthquake caused slips across the line so freight from the ferry has to be carried by trucks. For truck drivers using the inland road, it’s a slow difficult route because it’s narrow, hilly and winding when it goes over the mountain pass. The highway now carries four times the usual amount of traffic and many more trucks than usual. When snow falls in the winter, sometimes the road is closed. This winter, however, workers will be stationed at many places along the highway to clear the snow as soon as possible.

To make matters worse, a truck drove into the side of a small bridge on SH63, closing the bridge. Trucks and some cars can ford the river if there is no rain until the bridge is repaired. The alternative is for drivers to travel from Picton to Nelson and then south to join the Lewis Pass. This would add another hour and a half or two hours to the trip, making it more than 9 hours.

The North Island also has its highway problems. The road through the Manawatu Gorge has been closed because of slips. It was due to open this week. However, more rain has meant more slips. This is a main highway between Napier and Palmerston North – between the east and west coasts – and local people are calling for a permanent solution. They want a reliable highway but that will cost money.


• slips (n) – earth from the hillside slips down the hill and onto the road after rain
• freight (n) – goods, cargo
• stationed (v) – in position, probably staying in a camp
• ford (v and n) – driving through a river
• reliable (adj) – will not fail

Leave a Reply