State Highway 1 south of Kaikōura was reopened on Wednesday afternoon, more than a month on from the magnitude 7.8 quake in November.
Access will be two-way and only during daylight hours, 6am to 8pm, while work continues on slips in the area.
Traffic signals are installed along a 1km coastal section of the route, which is limited to a single-lane with one-way travel.
Transport Minister Simon Bridges said to road crews at Peketa: "For many of you you've been working seven days a week, all day, and you're probably tired, but everyone's incredibly appreciative.
"This marks a really significant milestone in the Kaikōura recovery."
There is no stopping or camping along the route because of the risk from potential rockfall in the event of an earthquake or heavy rain, and designated rest areas are located along the route.
William Speirs, a cafe co-owner in Kaikōura says it's a milestone that SH1 south is opening on Wednesday.
Mr Speirs is hoping for an influx of tourists to come and boost the region and stay over Christmas.
"We just want more happy people, and we just want to have a cruisy Christmas and get on with life," he says.
"I think we're all getting a bit sick of being stuck on an island, and the economic reality is we need tourists here, people visiting Kaikōura on business as well - all the tradesmen, it all helps."
He says Kaikōura is "friendly as" and encourages everybody to come and visit.
New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) has issued advice for the times drivers need to leave and arrive in order to reach their destination during the opening hours of the route.
The inland Kaikoura road also reopened to the public this week, and work is underway on State Highway 1 north of Kaikōura where several massive slips are blocking the road.
The Government announced last week that it will provide up to $2 billion to reinstate the entire State Highway coastal route and rail corridor to Kaikōura.