Reconnecting New Zealand

3 May 2018

NZ Post is celebrating the grit and determination that literally moved mountains to reconnect communities and New Zealand following the 2016 Kaikōura Earthquake.

Reconnecting New Zealand is a series of six stamps showing the enormous effort by the New Zealand Transport Agency, KiwiRail and its partners to reopen State Highway 1 and the Main North Line railway.

The Main North Line railway reopened to freight trains just 10 months after tracks had been thrown into the sea, Kaikōura Harbour was reopened 11 months after the sea bed had risen, and State Highway 1 was reopened to day-time travel after only one year, one month and one day.

NZ Post Head of Stamps Simon Allison said 1,700 people worked more than 2 million hours in an extraordinary response to an extraordinary event.

“The South Island itself moved, and the work that was done to reconnect it was almost Herculean.

“We’ve issued many other stamps showing connections in New Zealand, like the inter-island Ferry and the Auckland Harbour Bridge. These latest stamps continue that theme of connecting communities, just as NZ Post does everyday, delivering what people want.”

NZ Post experienced firsthand the immense challenges caused by the shattered transport infrastructure both immediately following the earthquake and during reconstruction were immense.

“During the initial two week period following the earthquake, NZ Post chartered aircraft to restore mail and courier services to Kaikōura so that essential items could be delivered, “ NZ Post GM Transport and Logistics Alan Court said.

“Within a short period we had to redesign our transport network to maintain connections with the North Island and the rest of the South Island so that the impact on our mail and parcel services was minimised. The inland route is longer, and the roads were not made for such a high volume of traffic, including heavy commercial vehicles. The alternative route added around 280 kilometres and four hours to the return trip between Picton and Christchurch, requiring more vehicles and drivers to maintain service levels.”

The New Zealand Transport Agency and KiwiRail formed the North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery (NCTIR) alliance to restore the road and rail and keep traffic moving on alternate routes. This partnership was new territory, as was the scale of collaboration between Downer New Zealand, Fulton Hogan, HEB Construction and Higgins.

“The effort that went into Reconnecting New Zealand in just 13 months is a testament to the collaboration and sheer determination of everyone involved,” said NCTIR alliance project director David Loe when SH1 reopened in December 2017.

David Loe says mountains were moved to reconnect communities and New Zealand.

“Although there is still work to do, the effort was nationwide, and immense.”

The stamps show a new seven-span bridge over Irongate Stream near Kaikōura, Geotech teams and abseilers working on cliff faces warning crews below of landslides, moving landslides, building of seawalls, KiwiRail’s specialised work trains, and the first freight train travelling the Main North Line.

The stamps are on sale now at nzpost.co.nz/reconnectingnz