You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
State Highway 1 and an alternate inland route were reopened last night.
Just before 9pm a detour was set up around the closed Ashburton Bridge, using Inland Scenic Route 72.
"Road conditions are variable. Therefore, we recommend all motorists reduce speed to 60kmh," an Ashburton District Council statement said.
An hour later, Ashburton Bridge, on SH1, was reopened to two-way light traffic restricted to 30kmh.
The bridge was closed yesterday morning after motorists reported slumping.
Waka Kotahi NZTA will close the bridge again from 10am to 2pm today to complete the load testing on the bridge.
An NZ Transport Agency spokesman said testing yesterday had shown the damaged pier was stable.
"Based on these results under load testing pressure each lane, the bridge can take light traffic," he said.
Typically, 21,000 vehicles would use the bridge on a weekday,
Contractors were working on restoring Thompsons Track, which would form part of an alternate inland route.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern inspected flood-affected parts of Canterbury yesterday after more than 500mm rain fell in the high country over the weekend.
A further 100mm or more fell in the region’s main urban centres and flooding rivers inundated farms, forced evacuations, disrupted supply lines for southern companies, and required the New Zealand Army to deliver drinking water in a region reeling in a state of emergency.
The Royal New Zealand Air Force flew Ms Ardern to Ashburton, three Environment Canterbury engineers to Timaru, and a team of five Selwyn District Council staff to Arthur’s Pass and Castle Hill Villages for an assessment of Three Waters infrastructure.
The air force also evacuated two people and brought supplies to Porter Heights skifield.
It resupplied Mt Somers general store with 500kg of goods from Christchurch Airport, and transported medical patients yesterday.
Air New Zealand added an additional flight per day for the next six days for people travelling between Timaru and Wellington.
Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor declared an adverse event for Canterbury, unlocking $500,000 of government support for farmers and growers.
Otago Daily Times reporters in Dunedin and Invercargill visited city supermarkets and reported seeing empty shelves.
In some stores a two-bottle limit was placed on milk, and bread supplies, as well as produce, were low.
Foodstuffs New Zealand head of corporate affairs Antoinette Laird said staff at the company’s distribution centre in Dunedin were working overtime.
Deliveries to many stores south of Christchurch were likely to be disrupted, she said.
Supplying customers in some areas over the next few days would be challenging, Kaan’s general manager Peter Deans said.
Supplies to the wholesaler that came from Christchurch, including fresh chicken, or fresh produce, could be affected over the coming days.
The issues showed how vulnerable New Zealand was to a disruption of delivery routes because it only had one or two main arterial routes, he said.
KiwiRail South Island operations general manager Mark Heissenbuttel said yesterday initial inspections allowed the reopening of the Main North Line, which linked Picton and Christchurch.
But washouts and damage to bridges on the Main South Line between Rolleston and Washdyke, north of Timaru, would keep the line closed until at least Sunday
Washouts would close the Midland Line from Christchurch to the West Coast between Rolleston and Arthurs Pass for at least three days.
TranzAlpine services tomorrow and on Friday were cancelled.
KiwiRail was also assessing the possibility of using the rail bridge to shuttle supplies across the Ashburton River, he said.
Ashburton District Council chief executive Hamish Riach said 19 district roads remained closed and five bridges were closed.
He said he understood SH1 from Temuka to Hinds could reopen today.