A farming representative has welcomed the news that milk tankers will be allowed back into Kaikoura from today but says they will need to be coming in daily to be of use to farmers.
A daily schedule for supervised travel in and out of Kaikoura on the inland route was set up by New Zealand Transport Agency last week and transport minister Simon Bridges said on Friday the first trip by full milk tankers would take place today.
"From the day of the earthquake our key priority has been re-establishing access to Kaikoura. We remain committed to re-connecting these communities and getting the region back on its feet - this is another step in that process."
Twenty-three Kaikoura farms have had no milk pick-ups since the Kaikoura quakes hit on November 14.
Farmers have had to spread the milk on their farms and many have moved cows onto once a day milking.
Michael Woodward, chairman of Federated Farmers North Canterbury, said it was really good news that the road was open.
But he said what farmers needed was consistency.
"The main thing we are after is consistency."
Woodward said farmers needed to have their milk picked up daily as storage vats typically only had enough space to keep milk for a day.
Fonterra has continued to pay farmers despite the milk not being picked up but Woodward said irregular pick-ups or if tankers were forced to turn-back if the road is closed due to issues could cause grey areas over pay.
Woodward said a positive about the road re-opening was the ability for support people to get in and do fix up work on farmers.
Of the 23 farms three had damage so bad they could not continue milking. Two had finished for the season and a third farm had moved its cows to Culverton to continue milking.
"It's really good news the road is open because it will mean support staff can get in and do the fix up jobs required."
Meanwhile 80 rental cars will also be allowed to leave Kaikoura this afternoon.
Tourism Industry Aotearoa said it had been working to help 15 companies get over 300 rental cars and coaches out of the quake-hit town.
Chief executive Chris Roberts said many rental car operators had provided replacement vehicles so customers could continue their holidays.
"Now they are keen to get these vehicles out of Kaikoura to meet booking commitments."
The cars will be driven back to Christchurch by a number of Kaikoura locals as well as members of the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association.
The association is hopping to get all the vehicles out by the end of next week with vehicles prioritised on a pro rata basis depending on how many each operator had in Kaikoura.
Roberts said the association had also convened a working group of industry leaders to guide the co-ordination of the industry and government's tourism response to the quakes.
"Not only Kaikoura, but the surrounding South Island regions of Marlborough,
Nelson, Christchurch and the West Coast are seeing impacts from the earthquake
itself or from the changes in road access. Wellington has also been affected.
"TIA is keen to support its members in these regions and around the country to
ensure that tourism continues to grow its contribution to our economy," said
The group will meet regularly over the summer to monitor the actions being
undertaken, identify any gaps in the response and act as required.