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The restoration of Kaikōura Harbour after last year’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake is expected to be completed by the middle of the year.

Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee has announced progress on the slipway, ramp and channel deepening as a result of the November 14 earthquake lifting the seabed between one and two metres in some areas. 

“At the moment access is severely restricted and the harbour channel is so shallow, it can only be used four hours a day – two hours either side of the tide,” Mr Brownlee says.

“Commercial operators can only schedule between 20 per cent and 40 per cent of their previously planned tours and the district’s commercial fishing industry has also been adversely affected.

“The importance of tourism and fishing cannot be underestimated – the annual tourism spend in Kaikōura is $120 million (domestic and international) and the value of the annual fishing catch is approximately $25-30 million.

“The $5 million government grant meant work could start straight away on repairing and upgrading this essential piece of infrastructure.

“Crews have already started to repair the marina and have been clearing and levelling the main commercial slipway. Work has also progressed at the recreational wharf and the Coastguard Kaikōura slipway.

“At the same time the channel into the main harbour is being deepened by dredging out the new sea floor. So far, about 5000 cubic metres of material has been excavated.

“It’s a big job that will result in the channel being two metres deep at low tide and able to be used all day. Work is expected to be complete by mid-year.

“The restoration has safeguards to avoid, remedy or mitigate any impact on the marine environment,” Mr Brownlee says.

Notes to editors:

  • The harbour restoration is being funded by a grant of up to $5 million announced in December.
  • Three excavators are at work, scooping up the limestone from the seabed to deepen the channel.
  • The largest excavator can remove one and half cubic metres per scoop. As the material is scooped up, the excavator lays it down again in front of its path, creating its own path as it moves along. The material will all be removed at the end of the project.
  • The diggers can be seen in this recent video posted by Whale Watch Kaikōura.

Attachment: Diggers work to deepen the channel at the entrance of Kaikōura Harbour.

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