Police have arrested three local men in relation to the looting of a freight train stranded north of Kaikoura after Monday's powerful quake.

The freight train, either end of which is sticking out of the tunnel at Mangamaunu, was trapped by landslides, then looted on Wednesday night.

Some of the property has been recovered and police are working to find the other items.

A police spokeswoman said there has not been any other reports of looting in Kaikoura.

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"Police are continuing to maintain a highly visible presence in the area and are conducting regular patrols to ensure the safety and security of people and their property."

The incident has seen New Zealand First MPs renew their call for tougher penalties for looters.

Deputy leader Ron Mark and fellow NZ First MP Clayton Mitchell observed the train when they choppered into Kaikoura on Thursday morning.

"The train has been stranded ever since the quake and has been targeted by low-life criminals," said Mark.

"At the present time people caught looting can only be charged with burglary. This serious gap in our law needs addressing.

"Anyone convicted of looting should be sentenced to 10 years hard labour."

NZ First want to see roadblocks set up around Kaikoura and other towns before the weekend to avoid anymore people plundering the coast.

"Now we hear vigilante groups are being talked about. That will lead to chaos on the coast, with punch-ups and fights.

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"In Christchurch the Army did a great job with cordons and roadblocks. The same can be done, north, south and west of Kaikoura," Mark said.

Roadblocks will also be useful in keeping members of the public, wanting to look at the damage, off the roads this weekend so emergency services can go about their business, Mark said.