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A Fire and Emergency NZ spokesman said crews from the Lyttelton and Woolston fire stations were called to the tunnel about 6.40pm on Thursday.
The deluge pump system inside the tunnel activated and partially extinguished the flames.
Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus equipment then stepped in and finished the job.
It took crews about an hour to extinguish the blaze.
The driver was travelling from Lyttelton towards Christchurch when the fire started.
There were no reported injuries but the Fenz spokesman said there was a crash involving two vehicles as the incident was unfolding.
The tunnel closed at 7.40pm but reopened by 9.15pm.