New Zealanders love a road trip but if you’re planning to visit Marlborough on one this summer, it’s important to check the status of the roads where you intend to go.
To help, the Marlborough Roads Recovery Team (MRRT) and the Marlborough District Council have an easy-to-use factsheet for visitors to navigate key roading and recovery information. The FAQ factsheet contains key points for anyone thinking of visiting the Marlborough Sounds or Awatere Valley areas in particular this summer.
The Marlborough region was hit by a severe storm on 17 July 2021 and many roads were damaged. The region is still dealing with disruption to its roading network due to slips, washouts and other road hazards resulting from the flooding. Repairs are ongoing but full access in some areas is not expected to be restored until 2023.
The local recovery transition period from the region’s state of emergency was extended this week for a further 28 days owing to the ongoing recovery requirements. It expires at 12.20pm Wednesday 9 February 2022 and covers the Wairau/Awatere Ward and the Marlborough Sounds Ward.
Things have gone smoothly on the region’s roads over the Christmas and New Year break.
Next week, crews will restart work in the recovery areas. For the entire week starting Monday 17 January, there will be stop/go restrictions on the roads in the recovery areas. Then, from Monday 24 January, daytime construction closures (9.00 am to 3.00 pm or 8.00 am to 5.00 pm depending on the site) will re-commence on the weekdays.
“While many Marlborough tourism operators are open for business, it is really important that visitors check road access, transport options and any restrictions on the area they are planning to visit,” said Marlborough Recovery Manager, Marianne Aitken.
“Some key roads, including the Awatere Valley Road and some parts of Kenepuru Road, are Controlled Access, which means there are restrictions on who can access them and when,” she said. “Only Resident or Essential Service Pass holders are allowed to drive through the Controlled Access areas along Kenepuru Road.”
There is currently no public access through the Awatere Valley. The Acheron Road through Molesworth is open, but it can only be reached from the southern end via Hanmer Springs.
Access to Controlled Access areas requires both the vehicle and driver to hold a valid Resident or Essential Service Pass. “Tourists, visitors, and guests are not eligible for these passes, so transport within the Controlled Access areas needs to be negotiated with your host,” said Mrs Aitken.
“Non-residents can also take advantage of the free road shuttle (subsidised by the Council) from Linkwater through to Sandy Bay and parking options at Smiths Farm Holiday Park and the Queen Charlotte Tavern at Linkwater,” she said. For bookings, please call Marlborough Tour Company on 03 577 9997 seven days a week, 9.00 am to 5.00 pm or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Other water taxi options are also available from Havelock or Picton and can be booked through the Marlborough i-Sites.
Some of the key points for visitors to note when in Marlborough include:
Queen Charlotte Drive is open to the public but there are nine sets of traffic lights along its length, so visitors are advised to allow extra time and drive with care.
There may be ongoing disruption and longer delays as the roading recovery repair work ramps up in 2022, so be sure to check the Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) map for road access updates here: bit.ly/CDEM-Map
Kenepuru Road was one of the hardest areas hit by the storm. Due to numerous slips, washouts and other damage, the public can only drive as far as 2071 Kenepuru Road (RP 20.39), with Controlled Access only beyond that point.
The Awatere Valley Road is currently closed to the public due to a slip at Limestone Bridge.
At present there is no Public Access to or from Acheron Road/ Molesworth Station through the Awatere Valley. The Acheron Road through Molesworth can only be reached from the southern end, via Hanmer Springs and all vehicles must turn around at Cob Cottage.
To download the factsheet for visitors which includes shuttle and parking information go to: https://bit.ly/RoadRecoveryVisitorFAQFactsheet
Be sure to check for access updates on the Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) map, which shows the affected roads, here: bit.ly/CDEM-Map
An updated Programme of Access and Works for the region is available here: bit.ly/ProgrammeAccessWorks
Find out about road access definitions (scroll below the Programme of Access and Works section): bit.ly/RoadAccessDefinition