Name chosen for new Tar Barrel tunnel bypass

30 October, 2020

A new road overpass for State Highway 1 nearing completion near Ward will be known as Ruakanakana Overpass. The name was chosen after consultation with local iwi, KiwiRail Chief Operating Officer Capital Projects, David Gordon said today.

“The name Ruakanakana is associated with a pā site beside Lake Elterwater that was occupied by the renowned chief Te Rakaitauheke of the Ngāti Kurī hapū of Ngāi Tahu.

“The Main North Line runs alongside Lake Elterwater, around 10km north of the new overpass. Ruakanakana can be translated as “two-headed lamprey” which evokes images of a guardian taniwha.

“Traffic will be travelling on the new overpass next month. Construction work is close to completion, with the naming by iwi and blessing of the new overpass part of our final preparations. 

“Vehicles have been using a temporary diversion through the area, while it was being built.

“The new road overpass is part of the work KiwiRail is doing to move a stretch of the Main North Line to bypass Tar Barrel tunnel, the oldest tunnel on the line.

“This work is needed to make the rail line more resilient and involves cutting through the hill to re-route the line to the south of the tunnel and beneath State Highway 1.”

The project is part of the Kaikoura Earthquake recovery works and will improve rail operations and seismic reliance for both road and rail.

KiwiRail is working with Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency to deliver these works, which are on track to be completed by mid-2021.

Waka Kotahi Director Regional Relationships Jim Harland thanked drivers through this site for taking care around road and rail crews while a more resilient link, particularly in the event of earthquakes, is completed for both road and rail.