Cheviot bracing for reopening of critical State Highway

The North Canterbury township of Cheviot is getting ready to celebrate the long-awaited re-opening of State Highway One this Friday, 15 November.

Contractors have been working around the clock to reopen the road. It was closed for earthquake repairs in November 2016.

Its closure had a dramatic effect on the small town of Cheviot.

Cheviot Promotions Society chair Debbie Anderson says many businesses in the town, particularly retail and restaurants, relied on the steady stream of travellers that used State Highway One.

“I owned a café until around three months ago – my turnover, at times, was down by 80%. No businesses have had to close but we’ve all had to work very hard to stay afloat.”

Debbie Anderson says Cheviot’s business owners are pleased the road is now reopening.

“We are all still a little nervous about how long it will stay open for and whether it will be able to cope with the holiday volumes of traffic, but we’re certainly embracing the reopening as a turning point.”

Ribbonwood Country House owner Gary Mitchell says they saw a big drop in business.

“We are really excited. It’s been a bit dire for us in terms of bookings over summer, but we’re looking forward to seeing the traffic and tourists coming through again.

Gary Mitchell says they’ll be decorating the streets and getting local businesses involved to add a bit of celebration to the big day on Friday.

“It’s a boost ahead of Christmas for sure.We’ll be looking to the major tourism organisations to help spread the word that SH1 is back open, and we expect a few domestic travellers to come have a nosy too which is of course very welcome.”

Debbie Anderson is looking forward to getting the chance to take the journey north of Kaikoura again herself.

“It’s such a lovely drive up the coast, and everyone’s looking forward to seeing the tourists back again.”

“This isn’t the end of the journey, there’s still a lot of work to go, but it’s fantastic to reach this milestone before Christmas.”