Local runanga have halted slip-clearing operations on earthquake-damaged State Highway 1 and the rail link north of Kaikoura.

Concern about potentially exposing or damaging cultural sites stopped helicopter sluicing work at Ohau Point, on Thursday.

The work was being carried out following the 7.8 magnitude quake which has cut  off Kaikoura from the north and south.

Concerns were  raised by the cultural monitor mandated by the local runanga, NZ Transport Agency Kaikoura earthquake recovery manager Steve Mutton said yesterday.

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As a result, NZTA's contractor Downer stopped the three-helicopter operation  about 4pm on Thursday.

"There is concern the sluicing works required to stabilise the slopes could potentially expose or damage cultural sites,'' he said.

The helicopters had been using monsoon buckets.

They had been re-directed  to other works in the area, including further geotechnical mapping of slips, Mutton said.

Contractors were meeting runanga representatives to discuss the requirement for the
sluicing and the methodology to be followed.

If required, that would also involve a helicopter flight over the area in question to allow for any specific sites to be identified.

A process had now been agreed for the sluicing work to resume early next week.

No artefacts or sites had been uncovered by the work undertaken to date, Mutton said.

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The Government announced on Thursday it was spending up to $2billion on rebuilding   SH1and the rail corridor along the coastal route to the north and south of Kaikoura.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges said he was "confident limited access via the coastal route can be restored in about 12 months''.