Residents who evacuated Waihi Village near Lake Taupo after a threat of a major landslide are able to return home, Civil Defence announced this evening.

Fifty residents voluntarily evacuated their homes on Monday, after several earthquakes and heavy rain increased the risk of a landslide in the Hipaua thermal area above the village.

Civil Defence and government officials told the residents this evening they could return to their homes tonight, One News reported.

State Highway 41 between Tokaanu and Pukawa had been closed since the weekend and information on whether the road would reopen tonight was not immediately available.


GNS Science specialists carried out an examination of the Hipaua thermal area this morning.

Eleven metal pins were placed in historically unstable parts of the hill yesterday to monitor for any signs of movement, and several more were to be put in today.

GNS Science said no significant signs of cracking or fallen rocks had been sighted, and birdlife had returned to the area.

Evacuated Waihi residents were sleeping at a welfare centre set up in the old Trust Board building in Tokaanu yesterday.

Holiday makers had not been deterred from the area despite the evacuation, Turangi i-Site said.

Turangi accommodation providers, who housed evacuated residents earlier this week, were now preparing for the school holidays, the information centre's manager Maryke Wilson said today.

Fresh snow on Mt Ruapehu and Mt Tongariro and good conditions on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing were expected to continue to draw tourists to the area.

The information centre recommended visitors to Turangi or Whakapapa checked road updates before their journey.