State Highway 1 is destroyed by a slip after Monday morning’s earthquake. Photo: NZDF.

Opinion: Nelson will be tested


As the devastation of Monday morning’s earthquake is revealed, two things has become clear for Nelson: we were lucky, very lucky; and our region just got a whole lot busier.

If the images shot from helicopters and beamed around national media on Monday are anything to go by, State Highway 1 near Kaikoura is stuffed.

Mountains have slipped into the ocean, burying the roads and railways under them — that isn’t an easy fix.

Nelson and places like St Arnaud will become the main route for people travelling between Christchurch and Picton’s ferries to the North Island.

The first effects are already being felt. Mark Rawson, chief executive of the Nelson Regional Development Agency, says the Nelson i-Site is experiencing extra activity from visitors who have “obviously had their road travel plans disrupted”.

He says pre-bookings before the quake were on track to be the best tourist season the region’s ever had.

The loss of a route down the east coast of the South Island will amplify that as tourists who would have missed us by heading to Christchurch via Kaikoura will be forced to head over the Whangamoas, or through the Wairau Valley to St Arnaud.

For trucking companies, it will be a logistical nightmare.

So while this earthquake has been devastating for our friends in Marlborough and North Canterbury, we’ll have to step up to cope with the added demand that will be placed on our region.