Blair Farmer will never forget how a woman's life slipped away as he worked to save her on the floor of the Haast information centre.
Yi-Chieh Feng, from Taiwan, had been flung from the rental campervan when the driver lost control and crashed into a bank. She wasn't wearing a seatbelt.
The driver Yu-Hsiang Chen couldn't call 111. There was no reception. So, instead of waiting for help to come past, he bundled her back into the van and drove for 30 minutes into Haast to get help.
• READ MORE: A blast from the Haast - NZ's most isolated town
Farmer, a local motelier who is one of a handful of St John volunteers in Haast, tried to save Feng. But she died of "high energy impact injuries to chest and back", the coroner's report stated.
"I was doing CPR and I could feel it was all mushy inside," Farmer said.
"No one was home. She died on the floor of the information centre."
It's just one of many examples where cell phone reception could have been a life-saving tool in Haast. Feng might have fared better if she hadn't been moved, Farmer said.
Haast sits in the middle of a 244km reception black spot that runs from Fox Glacier to Lake Hawea on the west coast of the South Island.
You can drive for three hours straight without getting reception. Help isn't easy to access if you have an accident and hundreds of thousands of motorists drive the Haast Pass route every year.
"To say that positive patient outcomes are severely compromised is an understatement," Farmer says.
"And accidents are happening more and more often.
"There's going to be a big bus crash one day - it's not if, it's when. And the resulting embarrassing national and international harm will be no good."
A young boy had to walk 5km in his socks to get help after his dad died in a car crash when the Haast pair were going to work. Having no cellphone the closest house was 5km where he could get to a landline.
In 2013, a Canadian couple were swept to their deaths off the Haast Pass in severe bad weather.
Connor Hayes, 25, and his girlfriend Joanna Lam, 24, had stopped in at Haast township, then continued on towards Wanaka. A week later their campervan was discovered in the Haast River. Lam's body was found on the beach 55km from the wreckage. Hayes' thigh bone was found three years later.
Farmer said they didn't stay in Haast because of the lack of reception and they were adamant they wanted to contact family.
Farmer has lobbied Government for cellphone reception over the last four years. A commitment has been made to bring in reception by 2022 - but four years is too long to wait for Farmer.
He wants a concrete answer on when construction would start and finish.
Local police officer Paul Gurney agreed. He said a lot of accidents happen as the locals work in "hard country" and it can take up to an hour to get word out about an incident.
"They say it's going to come, but we need it now. Not in four years' time.
"That golden hour is the difference between life and death."
Around 5 per cent of Haast households have a cell phone, but they can't use them at home. Nationwide, more than 80 per cent of the population use a cellphone, according to the 2013 census.
One-fifth of people in Haast don't have a landline, cellphone or internet connection.
Haast rural nurse specialist Liz Komen has to go and visit some of her patients who don't have any communications. She just hopes that they're home.
"We've got quite a few elderly who don't have phones. It's very time-consuming and it's actually quite dangerous for them."
Some of her patients live a few hours' walk away in the bush.
"If something happens they'd just be a pile of bones."
Local woman Neroli Nolan said the reception issue had remained unchanged for decades.
In the 1960s when the road was first opened her mum came across a car crash. She held a critically injured woman in her arms for two hours while they waited for help. The woman died before help came.
Similar accidents were still happening, Nolan said.
"In 50 years nothing has changed. We still have to go that long distance to get help.
"We need to keep up with the rest of the world."
Farmer, who owns a lodge, is also concerned the lack of reception is killing the town's tourism industry. When foreigners arrive they walk around with a cellphone in the air trying to get a bar. He has noticed a downturn in business over the last three years.
Businesses struggle to keep staff who don't want to stay once they realise they can't get their Facebook fix. One staff member got off the bus at 1pm and resigned at 5pm, Farmer said.
"Young travellers don't want to spend their time in Haast without reception.
"We have to move with the times. You can no longer survive without connectivity. As sad as it is."
Israeli tourist Noam Shapira, 22, agreed. He was worried when he and friends emerged from a two-day tramp on the Copland track and weren't able to message their parents they were okay like they had promised.
They also couldn't book their next hostel in Wanaka. They bought some internet time from their hostel to do so.
Some locals don't want reception. They want Haast to stay how it is, undiscovered, and fear cellphones will penetrate their uninterrupted life.
This year, $270 million was allocated to a communications infrastructure package, on top of the $150 million previously announced for the Rural Broadband Initiative, and the Mobile Black Spot Fund.
The programmes are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2022.
Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Clare Curran confirmed that a number of mobile towers will cover Haast itself and surrounding tourist spots. This will be covered by funding of $5.8 million designated for the Western District for rural broadband and mobile blackspots coverage.
"The new coalition Government is committed to continuing to improve connectivity so as many Kiwis as possible can share in the social and economic benefits it brings.
"There are still communities in some of our most rural and remote areas that have less than ideal coverage and I want to change that."
Curran said within the next six months a timetable for the work should be finalised.
Black spots nationwide
Haast is not the only spot without mobile coverage. Mobile coverage currently covers areas where over 95 per cent of New Zealanders live and work. However, our geographic coverage is currently sitting at around 50 per cent.
There are over 100 tourism locations that exist in blackspots. Most of them are very small but others are not - Milford Sound attracts more than 300,000 visitors a year. The Mobile Blackspot Fund will cover 108 tourism sites and 1041km of state highway.