From Monday milk tankers and other essential freight will be given access in and out of Kaikoura.

Following the magnitude 7.8 earthquake on November 14, the inland road - route 70 - to Kaikoura has been blocked off due to landslides and faulting damage.

The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) this week established a schedule of controlled access. Providing the weather was reasonable essential freight vehicles will have access on route 70 from this coming week.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges said the inland road between Kaikoura and Mt Lyford was still fragile, but crews had been working to clear the road.


"While the inland road between Kaikoura and Mt Lyford is still a very fragile and hazardous route, crews have been working hard to clear the road of more than 50 slips to get it to a state where it can now be used safely, with vehicles travelling in supervised convoys," Bridges said.

Work was also underway to clear State Highway 1, south of Kaikoura.

"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."

Fonterra head of Canterbury farm source Charles Fergusson said the reopening of the route was great news for Fonterra farmers.

"It's been almost three weeks since the earthquake happened and it's been a really stressful time for farmers. The vast majority of them have been milking and disposing of the milk the whole time, and it's quite heart-wrenching to see that happening day after day," he said.

"From a farmer perspective it's going to be great that their milk is going to be picked up. For us that's our business - collecting milk and producing great products - so it's good that we can get back to business as usual in Kaikoura."

Fergusson said it could take weeks before business returned to complete normality, but said getting milk picked up was a huge step forward.

"There's a bit of a journey here [ahead] because we are at the mercy of the road... and that's something we are going to have to work through," he said.


"Some of our farmers would have changed some of their practices over the last few weeks compared to what they were doing pre-earthquake and we'll be working together to see what makes sense for them in terms of getting them back to where they were before, or carrying on in a bit of a new normal."

There's a bit of a journey here because we are at the mercy of the road... and that's something we are going to have to work through.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said progress to secure the inland route to Kaikoura was important for the region's farmers.

"This has been a difficult time for farmers who have had to discharge milk onto their land in a controlled way. I want to thank them for their patience.

"The Transport Agency has been working closely with primary industries including Fonterra to make sure vehicles such as milk tankers are able to get into Kaikoura to collect milk from farms along the route and bring it out to market," Guy said.

"NZTA is treating these trips as an essential service for Kaikoura, providing access in what is a restricted environment, which is great news for everyone in the region."

Bridges said the clear up and recovery was making better progress than expected.

NZTA is aiming to restore controlled, single lane access for residents and essential services on the road by mid-December.