New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has visited towns affected by a powerful earthquake, saying officials are doing everything they can to restore infrastructure.

Key on Thursday traveled by military helicopter to the South Island towns of Waiau, Kaikoura and Kekerengu.

The magnitude 7.8 quake on Nov. 14 killed two people and triggered landslides that still block a major coastal highway. Hundreds of tourists were last week evacuated from Kaikoura in helicopters and by a navy ship.

Kaikoura remains inaccessible by road to the public, although military convoys have managed to get through. The town was popular among tourists participating in whale-watching boat rides.

Residents in Kekerengu asked Key to quickly reopen State Highway One. But Key said the damage was extensive and any fix would take some time.