Blocks are being dropped on Ashburton Bridge for stress testing, Ashburton's mayor says, and it may reopen to light traffic tomorrow morning if successful.
The bridge on State Highway 1 was closed today after motorists reported they could feel it slumping underneath them.
There were no alternative routes south as all other road options closed.
The initial assessment revealed significant damage to the bridge and an Ashburton Council spokesperson said that suggested it would remain closed for at least several days.
However, Mayor Neil Brown told RNZ's Checkpoint tonight the bridge was being stress tested, and could reopen tomorrow morning if it held up.
Meanwhile, flood waters around the Canterbury region are receding, and MetService forecast no further rainfall for the rest of the week.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Minister of Agriculture Damien O'Connor spoke to media this afternoon after surveying the damage from the air.
- Adverse event declared
- Ashburton bridge shuts
- 'Trees just whirlwinding down - it was scary'
- Wrap-up of yesterday's events: Red warning lifted, as rivers recede
- Farmer waits after stopbank burst metres from home
Read back through live updates for 1 June:
The region's Civil Defence coordinator, Andrew Howe, says officials will be keeping their eye on the at-risk rivers until they have settled.
Hundreds of Mid-Canterbury residents spent another night next to packed bags, ready for large-scale evacuations at any second.
Travellers stranded in Mid-Canterbury are hoping roads can begin to reopen today.
Two stretches of State Highway 1 are closed along with parts of five other highways, and many roads.