Aid convoy forced back

9:37 pm on 19 November 2016

The threat of further slips means the only half-functioning road out of Kaikoura will not reopen until next week.

The army convoy arrived at the racecourse in Kaikoura on Friday afternoon. 18 November 2016.

One army convoy arrived at the Kaikoura racecourse on Friday afternoon, but another had to turn back. Photo: Claire Eastham-Farrelly / RNZ Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

Civil Defence had hoped to open the inland highway, formerly State Highway 70, by this weekend, but will now reassess it early next week.

View RNZ's full coverage of the earthquakes here.

A large convoy of army trucks carrying urgent supplies used the rural road yesterday, but Civil Defence said there was still a significant threat of landslides.

Military vehicles could not longer use the inland road because of the threat of more slips.

One aid convoy arrived in Kaikoura last night, but a second had to turn back.

Acting Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee said the route would like open in the middle of next week.

Contractors had a big job sluicing away unstable debris from bluffs threatening the road.

Heavy rain on Thursday set back contractors working to clear the road of debris.

Mr Brownlee said it would be a long time before the highway opened to general traffic.

RNZ reporters were allowed to drive roughly halfway along the road yesterday and found dozens of slips and a badly damaged surface.

The state of the road scuppered plans by a four-wheel-drive club to take a convoy of vehicles with aid supplies and volunteers to Kaikoura.

Dave Lockett, who chairs the Canterbury Landrovers Club, said it was ready to take 13 pallets of supplies and student army volunteers, but they had to cancel the trip and take the food back to the Salvation Army for storage.

Mr Brownlee said once the road re-opened, vehicles would be escorted and checked to ensure they could make the trip safely.

There was no sign State Highway 1, to the north or south of Kaikoura, would be reopen soon.

‘Kaikoura Council hands out tickets for rationed petrol as fuel runs low. Conan Young’

Kaikoura Council hands out tickets for rationed petrol as fuel runs low. Photo: Conan Young / RNZ


Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management director Sarah Stewart-Black said there was a small problem of norovirus in Kaikoura, probably because of the damage to sewer mains and water pipes by the quake.

Earlier in Waiau, in North Canterbury, two adults and two children from three different families came down with the bug.

Civil Defence was also urging people in the town not to flush their toilets with the sewerage system heavily damaged. Chemical toilets and portaloos were among supplies being brought in.

Only a small number of Kaikoura properties had running water.

Service was restored to those living along the waterfront street known as the Esplanade but everybody else was having to fill containers from large water depots dotted around the town.

Work to restore the water was continuing and about half of the 3500 residents had their mains reconnected. It was not certain how long it would take to restore the rest.

Civil Defence Canterbury controller, John Mackie said 900 chemical toilets were being installed, but a fully functioning water system would be weeks away.

In the meantime, people must boil their drinking water. Bottles of disinfectant have been distributed to residents, he said.

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Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly


Mainpower said about 340 customers were still without power in Kaikoura, plus 24 across the Hurunui district.

A spokesperson said its focus was on restoring power to the dozens of rural properties on State Highway 70.

DOC huts destroyed

At least two Department of Conservation (DOC) huts in back-country Kaikoura were destroyed by slips after Monday's earthquake.

DOC national operations director Martin Kessick said Barratts Hut and Barratts Bivvy were swept away and buried.

He said the small huts were in a remote area and were little used. They could not be booked.

Some huts in Kaikoura and south Marlborough had been damaged.

People were advised to keep away from the tracks and huts until the all-clear was given.

Meanwhile, the Fox River tourist cave on the West Coast has closed after DOC staff discovered rockfall over the entrance.

It would be closed until remedial work could take place.