Water is being progressively restored to Kaikoura, although about half the quake-hit township remains without power today.

Kaikoura District Council reported that from tomorrow, water stations would be installed outside the town i-Site, at New World Supermarket and at South Bay.

Residents whose water supply had been restored were being urged to minimise use and refraining from doing laundry.

There was a boil notice in place for all drinking water.

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Kaikoura's sewerage system had been badly damaged, pipes as well as pump stations, and people were being asked not to flush their toilets.

Portaloos were being brought into the area by the HMNZS Canterbury.

Although there was extensive damage to the electricity network, about 680 customers remained without power this morning, around 50 per cent of the town had now been powered back on.

There was yet no estimate on when all power would be restored.

Building inspectors, supported by USAR and Red Cross teams, had finished the checks of most commercial buildings in the town and were now going door to door to check houses.

Army and police personnel were also working their way around homes in the outlying areas to check on families and delivering supplies.

Work was underway on the State Highway 70 route out of town, with a goal to have the road back open by the weekend, depending on the weather and further aftershocks.

Emergency service vehicles and emergency supplies were the only vehicles being allowed through, as aerial waterbombing was carried out to bring down loose debris around the highway.

"Our aim is to have the road open to all traffic as soon as possible and to escort vehicles through the rivers that need to be forded, so there will be a convoy system established for safety," the council reported.

Because of the extent of the damage on SH1 North to Blenheim, it could be months before that route is open again, although SH1 South to Conway could be open in several weeks.

Hurunui District

Crews were also working hard to restore electricity around quake-hit parts of Hurunui, where more than 180 customers were without power this morning.

"Decreasing outage numbers certainly don't reflect the scale of the devastation out in the field," MainPower chief executive Bruce Emson said.

The effort of the company's field staff was outstanding in some very challenging conditions, he said.

"I spoke with many in the community who passed on their gratitude for our effort and energy in restoring power to the region.

"The task ahead, however, is significant."

Access to isolated areas in the district was improving, although ground conditions were causing challenges.

Long-term repair work would be required once the full scale and scope of damage was assessed.

Meanwhile, around 11 crews, or 40 people, were working on roads, and engineers and NZTA bridging teams were completing inspections of local bridges.

Some roads had a status of "limited access", meaning they were open to repair crews and emergency vehicles only, and many others were still closed.

These included Clarence Valley Rd and Leader Rd, and Rotherham Road was partially closed due to slips north of Rotherham.

Lottery Bridge was heavily damaged, Wandle Bridge had partially collapsed and approaches to the Mason River bridge had collapsed.

Marlborough District

This morning, power had been restored as far south in the district as the Ure River.

Properties which had been affected may have wires exposed and residents were being advised to assume all wires are live.

Ward's water supply has not yet been restored and water had been delivered to the township with recommendations it be boiled before use.

Public health staff were also in the Ward area advising residents who had damaged septic tanks.

Residents in Seddon were being asked to boil water.

Council building inspectors had travelled as far south in the district as was possible and had completed almost of their initial assessments.

The historic church St Oswald at Wharanui had been red-stickered, denoting that it is unsafe.

SH1 from Picton remained fully open to just south of Ward township, to the intersection with Wests Rd.

This meant tradespeople have access to the area, although there was a checkpoint at the intersection as the road further south remained closed.

Police were maintaining a presence around the area.