Some businesses back in operation and out-of-towners are lending a hand.

Just a few days ago, Waiau was cut off from civilisation. But four days on from the monster 7.8 magnitude earthquake, locals are getting on with life. A critical stage was the reopening of the Waiau River Bridge which had dropped about 40cm at each end after the quake - it's now proving a lifeline.

Church will be held elsewhere this week as the stone-laden All Saints Church has been left buckled, its bell tower leaning slightly.

And the historic Cob Cottage and town museum has been red-stickered.

As well, at least 10 homes have been red-stickered and some of the occupants are now living in tents.


You don't have to go far to see a four-wheel-drive bustling with supplies, a high-vis vest or an emergency response vehicle.

There's only a few hundred that live in the area and the main street consists of about half a dozen businesses.

Down at Ross Forbes Motors, it's clean-up time. When the Herald visited yesterday, Forbes and young staffer Sam Ferguson were tidying the workshop. They'd already spent the past day or two picking up tyres, tools and other equipment that was left all over the workshop. As for how the locals are feeling, four days on, Forbes reckons they're still a bit shell-shocked. However, they had been buoyed by the support from surrounding towns - Rotherham, Culverden - that hadn't been affected as badly.

"The support that we're getting from the other areas, because they want to open up this as a main route and because we were the worst, all those guys have been over supporting us."

He was thankful of how quickly contractors had worked to get the power and water services operating again, although there were still pockets of the town that were too badly affected. "Someone said there's 300 people working on the Inland Rd today, just trying to open it. But that road is going to be average for a long time."

Next door at the local bakery, staff are back in business: the chips are cooking, the sandwiches are ready to eat, the muffins fresh.

Although they don't want to be named - they say there are others worse off - they're happy to be able to feed people again.

Customers are mostly visiting contractors and emergency services personnel which at the moment make up a sizeable chunk of the population.

Bernie Shapiro didn't bring heavy excavation equipment - the Little River resident brought supplies that he knows the locals will need. After all, that community has also had its fair share of shakes. "A lot of us are earthquake refugees and we know what they're going through."

The vintage military enthusiast even dressed up in his garb for the trip.

At the Waiau Supermarket, owner Michael Patel opened his doors for the first time yesterday.

His staff are still stocking the shelves but it's a mighty transformation from what he was confronted with on Monday.

He's optimistic about the future as SH70 - the main road through Waiau - is now likely to become the main thoroughfare for people wanting to travel north.

Down the road in Culverden it's also back to normal but in Cheviot - on State Highway 1 - what was once a hotspot for tourists is now quiet.