The crucial Inland Kaikoura Rd opened yesterday. Videographer Joe Morgan was first to traverse the route.

He joined the start of the road just north of quake-hit Waiau.

The road was "very rough" and "definitely required a reasonably good 4WD".

"An SUV-type of car would not have made it - the cracks and drop-offs were too big," Morgan said.


"There were unexpected drops on the road. Whenever we saw a ripple in the distance, we slowed nearly to a stop. We were cautious and aware of our surroundings of where the slips were, and aware that an aftershock could cause more to come down. And there were about three pretty serious slips in there."

Father-and-son contractors, Mark and Sam Powell from Lyford Contracting had taken the initiative and started clearing the road.

They pushed through the slips and at Conway River Bridge met Kaikoura father-and-son contractors, Mark and John Fissenden.

"They were really good buggers and built a small bridge for me to cross and I went through to the other side," said Morgan.

"The Kaikoura side was less damaged. The Lyford side was the worst damage I had seen on the roads."

The journey, which would normally take around an hour, yesterday took Morgan two hours.

After working in Kaikoura, Morgan turned to come back and found it was a different road.

"Most of the contractors were heading home and the road was very driveable," he said.


"A few bumps and lumps but they had filled in the big cracks with shingle and made a very good job of it.

"You would still want four-wheel-drive and low cars would still not have a chance."

Truck driver Gerard Daldry described the Inland Kaikoura Rd as being like Russian roulette.

Daldry travelled the road from Waiau to Kaikoura yesterday - the 80km trip took him four hours.

NZTA had hoped to have the road open to the public this weekend, but Daldry said heavy rain could bring down more boulders at any time.

Rain is forecast for the region today.