A Gladstone Rd couple expecting their first child any minute were lucky to escape their home after a massive slip cut off road access on Wednesday night.
A stroke of luck saw Corey and Kellie Riley on the town side of the slip that saw heavy rainfall bring down tonnes of rocks and debris that blocked road access for residents of the small river valley community.
It was a tense time for the couple. Riley said his wife is 39 weeks pregnant. They stayed with her parents in New Plymouth last night, but only had a limited amount of clothing and supplies.
"We couldn't actually get home," he said.
They planned to return home today. While there was a support network and neighbours were helpful in offering to give rides in and out of the valley, it wasn't practical for an expectant couple, he said.
An update from Horowhenua District Council released this morning said even more rock material has come down overnight, blocking the road further. Contractors were on site since first light doing their best to clear debris.
Council had updated residents on the second rockfall this morning. Emergency services were being kept informed of developments, and helicopters were on standby should they be needed.
There were two designated helicopter landing pads in the valley.
Riley said he appreciated that council and contractors were doing all they could to clear the road, and he welcomed plans for a new road that would provide safe access.
He said the new road couldn't come soon enough, as he feared someone could get seriously hurt.
"Soon or later someone is going to get squashed," he said.
Riley said while an alternate route provided access for some valley residents, he wasn't comfortable driving it, and felt it wasn't safe for his work van or family car, he said.
"Our little Honda wouldn't make it. It wouldn't get traction on the pine needles and the front wheels of the van always slide out. It's not safe," he said.
"You aren't able to stop because you can't get traction again."
Any disruptions to the road made it hard for the Rileys in their line of work.
He drove a shuttle van service that required him to be on call to meet bookings, while up until a few weeks ago before Kellie Riley took maternity leave she worked out of town as a physiotherapist, which required her to keep customer appointments.
"We have thought about moving, but Kellie doesn't want to. It is amazing up there," he said.