Kurt Bayer is a Herald reporter based in Christchurch

Limited-access Inland Rd earthquake cordon frustrates North Canterbury locals

Kaikoura's Inland Rd is expected to open to Mt Lyford today as the cordon moves north.

North Canterbury locals have been frustrated by the earthquake cordon, which limits access to properties on the battered road to Kaikoura. The cordon is expected to move from Sherwood Rd just north of Waiau to Mt Lyford by 2pm today.

The quake-damaged Inland Rd linking Waiau in North Canterbury to Kaikoura suffered extensive damage in Monday's magnitude 7.8 tremor.

Huge landslides washed across the road at several places while the violent shaking ripped apart the road surface and damaged bridges.

Several farms, as well as about 30 people at Mt Lyford, have been cut off after the New Zealand Transport Authority and Civil Defence closed Kaikoura Emergency Access Rd (State Highway 70) to all traffic, including residents.

Today, amid mounting pressure, Canterbury Civil Defence Emergency Management Group arranged for access for residents and essential vehicles including New Zealand Defence Force supply convoys and roading contractors.

It meant that residents could drive in an escorted convoy from the Waiau side inside the cordon at 10am and again at 2pm.

They then must either stay overnight or leave the area by 6pm.

Locals have been frustrated by the limited access.

Many have been circumventing the cordon by using 4WD vehicles and their local knowledge of back roads and farm tracks.

Inland Rd resident Cathy Johns was one of about a dozen drivers waiting to get through at 2pm today.

"It's a pain in the a***," she said.

"It's really frustrating. We've been up and down the road since the quake happened, we know the risk. We don't need this cordon and convoy."

Ivan Chernishoff, 71, today tried to travel from his Amberley home to check on his 500ha beef farm on the Inland Rd, which his son said had suffered extensive damage.

But he was stopped at the cordon and made to wait more than an hour before he was let through.

"I feel sorry for everybody but this seems a little too much," he said.

Civil Defence's Steve Fabish today said the cordon was a public safety measure.

Some of the slips on the road were "quite unstable", he said, and more work needed to be done to stabilise them.

Fabish said he understood the locals' frustration but they were working "as quickly as we can" to open it up further and give better access.

Aerial photo of a slip on State Highway 70 to Waiau. Photo / Sam Smith
Aerial photo of a slip on State Highway 70 to Waiau. Photo / Sam Smith

"We're not in business as usual. This is quite an event for the whole of New Zealand, and I think the response so far ... we're getting there," he said.

"There are some frustrations, which we actually accept, and that's why we're working as quickly as we can to get some more access to the road."

He urged residents to check the Hurunui District Council website and the Civil Defence Facebook page regularly.

Asked when the cordon might drop further, he said it was being assessed "hour by hour".

Meanwhile, another Defence Force convoy that set off this morning is due about now in Kaikoura. The military convoy is taking emergency supplies, including fuel.

It's made up of 14 specialist vehicles, including fuel tankers, and the rest are carrying other supplies such as food.

- NZ Herald

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