Davies AJ, Sadashiva V, Aghababaei M, Barnhill D, Costello SB, Fanslow B, Headifen D, Hughes MW, Kotze R, Mackie J, et al. 2017. Transport infrastructure performance and management in the South Island of New Zealand, during the first 100 days following the 2016 Mw 7.8 “Kaikōura” earthquake. Bulletin of the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering. 50(2):271-299. doi:10.5459/bnzsee.50.2.271-299.
On 14th November 2016, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake occurred in and offshore of the northeast of the South Island of Aotearoa New Zealand. Fault rupture, ground shaking, liquefaction, and landslides caused severe damage to infrastructure, and particularly transportation networks. Large segments of the country’s main highway, State Highway 1, and the Main North Line railway line were damaged between Picton and Christchurch. The damage had direct local impacts, including isolation of communities, and wider regional impacts, including disruption of supply chains. Adaptive measures ensured immediate continued regional transport of goods and people. Air and sea transport increased quickly, both for emergency response and to ensure routine transport of goods. Road diversions also allowed critical connections to remain operable. This effective response to regional transport challenges allowed Civil Defence Emergency Management to quickly prioritise access to isolated settlements, all of which had road access 23 days after the earthquake. However, 100 days after the earthquake, critical segments of State Highway 1 and the Main North Line remained closed and their ongoing repairs a serious strategic national, as well as local, concern. This paper presents the impacts on South Island transport infrastructure, and subsequent management through the emergency response and early recovery phases, during the first 100 days following the initial earthquake, and highlights lessons for transportation system resilience.