Rental car companies are exploring the possibility of moving some 250 vehicles stranded in Kaikoura out by sea.
Industry members spoke with Civil Defence yesterday, and were given the bad news that it may be Christmas before they can move their vehicles from the quake-stricken town.
Jucy chief operating officer Dan Alpe said the possibility of transporting the vehicles out by barge or ship was raised at the meeting.
Alpe has been tasked with exploring this further as a possible way of getting the vehicles back on the road as the companies head into their busiest time of year.
"We've got a couple of options. One is if the road does open we'll work on a plan around how we're going to fuel vehicles and exactly how that will work. We'll probably look to bus people in to transport those vehicles out.
"We're also working on options of potentially getting them out by sea, which may be another scenario which could be practical if we could guarantee getting them out in a quicker time frame."
Jucy has about 33 vehicles in Kaikoura but Alpe said it wasn't proving a major financial blow at this stage.
"At the moment we're not running at capacity but once we get into December that's the peak season for us so it'll have an impact."
Fifteen companies have about 250 rental vehicles in Kaikoura, many of them parked in locals' driveways and yards.
"For the residents of Kaikoura, having 250-odd rental vehicles parked up around town is quite a lot to deal with so I think everyone's quite keen to see them moved as soon as possible," Alpe said.
The industry has agreed to cover the costs of moving the vehicles, contrary to earlier reports that stranded drivers may have to help pay for their recovery.
Go Rentals general manager James Dalglish, who's down 20 vehicles thanks to the quake, said many of their customers had been put into new rentals as soon as they'd left Kaikoura, at no extra cost.
"We'll just take it on the chin. It's one of those things - it's the cost of doing business.
"Given the circumstances and the state of the emergency you've just got to work in the parameters to make sure everybody's looked after, everybody's safe, and do your level best."