A $40 million programme to fix earthquake-damaged infrastructure in Kaikōura is almost finished, but there are still challenges ahead for the seaside tourist town.
Today marks four years since a 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked the region, devastating homes, the coastline, and State Highway 1.
The Kaikōura District Council's senior operations manager, Dave Clibbery, said the council's $40m rebuild was almost complete, with about $1m worth of work left to do.
About $15m of that was spent on the local roading network, which suffered "significant damage".
"We also had damage to our sewer system – the levels were very radically changed and it didn't work," he said.
"Much of it had to be replaced."
The same went for water pipes and bridges throughout the district.
The work left to do included repairs to the sewage pump station and the water mains.
"That should be done in the coming months," said Clibbery.
He said a team of three people working full-time on the rebuild was now down to one part-time person, and work would wind down by the end of the year.
Clibbery said he believed the district was now better equipped to deal with a future quake.
"I think we are, because those older and more fragile pipes in particular, these have failed and have been replaced."
Meanwhile, Kaikōura's mayor, Craig Mackle, said in terms of the rebuild the town was "absolutely scorching".
"We've finished the majority of it."
But he said there were some challenges ahead, one of those being dealing with hazards from the changing landscape.
That was "a huge lot of work", he said.
"We have water now flowing where it would not have once upon a time. Areas you used to be able to build on are no longer possible [to build on]."
Mackle said four years on there were also plenty of people "worn out".
"It's been a hell of a road," he said.
"I don't mean to make Covid sound good or the lockdown sound good but most people in this town really needed that time to reboot and spend time with their families."
However, he said there were plenty of exciting developments in the town, with new buildings be constructed – including a new Sudima hotel.
Another building that had been repaired and was about to open next week was the Mayfair theatre, which had been shut since the earthquake.
President of the new Mayfair Arts and Culture centre, John Wyatt, said it had taken a lot of work – and support - to get the building repaired ahead of its expected opening next week.
"It has been a journey," he said.
"We went from being broken ourselves and having a broken building to creating something really special."
The local op shop trust had raised more than $300,000 for the project, Wyatt said.
The building's pink art-deco facade had been saved, and the inside had been designed to be multi-purposed, with conferences, live theatre, and cinema able to take place at the venue.
Upstairs a gallery would allow exhibitions to be held.
In the middle of town, pharmacist David McKee said the town was "going pretty good".
"We're making tracks in the right direction – it's going all right."
Cash flow was pretty good and there were plenty of visitors, he said.
"The town is quite vibrant during the day, the bars seem quite lively in the evenings."
But there were frequent reminders of the earthquake, whether that was empty sites that used to be occupied by buildings damaged in the quake or the many new developments.
"We haven't forgotten there was a devastating earthquake four years ago."