More people could be able to use the Inland Rd to Kaikoura next week, Acting Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee says.

"The biggest challenge here is getting the road open for freer movement of traffic between Waiau and the upper part of that road into Kaikoura. It is a stretch of 87km, it looks like a good chunk of that could be open sooner than we perhaps had anticipated," Brownlee said during a visit to the upper South Island today.

"I hate giving timelines on any of these things, but it would be ideal by end of the weekend it was able to have a further relaxing of traffic through. A point where we might have everybody being able to freely use that road, that is a little harder to determine."

Brownlee said those who had business, employment or livestock to look after would get first access to the road.

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"Sightseers are probably some time off before they are able to get in there."

Eighty workers have been working 12-hour days to get the road open, and more than 70 pieces of heavy machinery have been brought in for the task.

Army convoys have been using the road to bring supplies, including water, food, chemical toilets and fuel to Kaikoura. The risk of rockfalls and bad weather has meant progress has been as slow as 20km/h.