Ohau Safe Stopping Area
Photo credit: L. Elliott


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Kaikōura Earthquake Response: The recovery of the Kaikōura transport corridor and landscape

WSP New Zealand Limited

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  • NZILA Te Karanga O Te Tui Supreme Award — 2022
  • NZILA Category Winner Transport — 2022
Paparoa Point
Photo credit: L. Elliott
Paparoa Point Photo credit: L. Elliott

Just after midnight on 14 November 2016, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck starting 60km south west of the Kaikōura township and running north along the east coast of the South Island. Twenty-one faults ruptured bringing landslides onto the transport corridor instantly isolating communities and bringing travel and the transportation of freight to a halt. This was all within a landscape renowned for its natural scenery, ecosystems, and tourism experiences.

In response, the New Zealand Government passed a suite of special legislation to enable the restoration and recovery of the area. This included the Hurunui/Kaikōura Earthquakes Recovery (Coastal Route and Other Matters) Order in Council 2016 (OIC), which among other things modified the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) to ensure that resource consents for restoration work were granted in an efficient and expedient manner.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency and KiwiRail came together for the first time in a collaborative model setting up the North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery
(NCTIR) Alliance to form the delivery agency to restore and then improve the transport networks. The alliance also included four construction companies - Downer, Fulton
Hogan, HEB and Higgins; in turn, supported by a design sub-alliance of WSP, Aurecon and Tonkin + Taylor.

In a fast moving, engineering focused environment, the Landscape Architecture team rose to the fore, working at pace to an exemplary standard, resulting in an outstanding
outcome for the project as a whole; rich in visual, narrative and ecological outcomes and greatly enhancing the user experience.

Rakautara Safe Stopping Area
Photo credit: L. Elliott
Rakautara Safe Stopping Area Photo credit: L. Elliott

Judges’ Citation - category winner
The focus of the various spaces that have been created through the Kaikōura Earthquake Response is not the exceptional nature of the earthquake itself, but instead the stories of a coastline and its people, both of which have been given new opportunities for expression through the design of the many spaces along the new road. The project develops a series of individual stopping points, many of which would be worthy of recognition as stand-alone experiences in their own right.

The combined impact of all of these individual elements creates a profound and rich landscape experience which provides a frame for visitors to experience this significant cultural and natural landscape.  At some points the design works in the simplest of ways, to point the visitor towards fascinating views to behold and experiences to be had.  Elsewhere there is considerable content in the form of interpretation panels that give a depth of information and narrative about significant sites and places of interest. 

Judges’ Citation - Te Karanga o te Tui supreme award
The Kaikōura Earthquake Response transport corridor and landscape is a worthy winner of Te Karanga o te Tui supreme award.  It is a transformative project at a scale not often provided for landscape intervention.  It opens up access and offers experience of the beautiful coastline and the unique stories of the place.  But it also represents an outstanding example of co-design with Te Rūnanga o Kaikōura. The project has brought the skills of a profession made robust in other more urban contexts to this most dynamic of edges, to make space to reveal the untold stories of a coastline and its people. The project is layered with details and subtleties that mean even repeat visits will be rewarded with continued engagement and involvement in place. 

There are also  grand gestures and precise moments of clarity that one could never have imagined being possible were it not for the collaborative efforts of the design team with Te Rūnanga o Kaikōura, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, the Cultural Advisory Group, artists, and the generous sharing of stories of this place. The cultural narratives are crafted into a series of elements that structure the journey by marking sites of cultural significance, and build an awareness of the whakapapa that is embedded in this landscape.  The disruption of this coastal edge through the power of natural forces has allowed for a design intervention that powerfully celebrate place and the spirit of this significant landscape.




Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency and KiwiRail – Client contact: Colin Knaggs, Waka Kotahi

North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery (NCTIR)

Landscape design & delivery inputs:
David McKenzie – Landscape Lead (WSP)
Lawrence Elliott – Landscape Architect (WSP)
Andrew King – Landscape Architect (Boffa Miskell)
Derek Watson – Design Engineer (Aurecon)

Supported by:

Will Doughty – Environmental Manager (Fulton Hogan)
Tim Watterson – Design Manager (Aurecon)
Haden Walters – Design Manager (Aurecon)
Graeme Tiltman – Design Manager (WSP)
Steve Proctor – Structural Lead (Stantec)
Campbell Apthorp – Structural Engineer (WSP)
Nik Stewart – Engineering Technician (Beca)
Todd Berryman – Engineering Technician (WSP)
Harvey Duncan - Architect (WSP)

Review and support by:

Sam Bourne, Principal Advisor Waka Kotahi

Cultural artworkpackage input:
Te Rūnanga o Kaikōura
Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu
Ariki Creative
Master Carvers: Riki Manuel and Fayne Robinson
Aaron Brown – Interpretative signs

Key contractors:
• Prometal - corten steelwork
• Creative Castings - concrete casting
• Street Furniture NZ - timber furniture
• Art Fe’tiche - vapour blasting
• Wai Ora and Red Tree Environmental - native seed collection and propagation
• Natural Habitats (2019) Red Tree Environmental (2020 - 2021) - Landscape planting
• Red Tree Environmental (2020 – 2022) - Red Tree Environmental

Tunnel 11 Creation Story Mural
Photo credit: L. Elliott
Tunnel 11 Creation Story Mural Photo credit: L. Elliott
Ōhau Point Following the 2016 Earthquake
Photo credit: NCTIR
Ōhau Point Following the 2016 Earthquake Photo credit: NCTIR
Ōhau Safe Stopping Area
Photo credit: L. Elliott
Ōhau Safe Stopping Area Photo credit: L. Elliott