The earthquake thrust the seabed up to 2m in places, severely restricting access to the harbour. This was a blow as the harbour is critical for the tourism industry, one of the largest sources of income for the region.
The Hurunui/Kaikōura Earthquakes Emergency Relief Act 2016, introduced in December 2016 and administered by the Ministry for the Environment, provided for the activities required so the Kaikōura Harbour and its facilities could be remediated and be used fully, effectively and safely.
The harbour was opened again for business by the Minister of Civil Defence on 14 November 2017, one year after the earthquake. The official opening was preceded by a dawn ceremony, led by Te Rūnanga o Kaikōura.
Although the restoration of the Kaikōura Harbour was actually carried out under the existing emergency works provisions in the Resource Management Act (sections 330 and 330A), the Emergency Relief Act enabled the work to be planned and committed to with the certainty that it would be able to be done.
The Government provided $5.72m funding to restore the harbour to full functionality. Operators Whale Watch Kaikōura and Encounter Kaikōura have funded an extra $900k for enhancements to allow for future expansion of the harbour so it becomes accessible to larger boats, thereby increasing commercial opportunities, and allowing cruise ships to moor offshore.
The work was undertaken by NCTIR.
The Coastguard Kaikōura slipway was open for business by 18 July 2017. Kaikōura District Council owns the land around the Coastguard area, and Coastguard Kaikōura owns the building and slipway and maintains the area. The slipway in use before the quake was newly completed by the Coastguard in 2012, mostly by the volunteers. The slipway is normally just used by the Coastguard for training and rescue services.
Coastguard Kaikōura is a volunteer group that provides marine search and rescue services from Motunau Beach (100 nautical miles south) to Cape Campbell (100 nautical miles north). It offers boating safety education and training to crew members and the public.
The harbour is now fully operational by November, ready for the tourist season.