Hundreds of properties in Kaikoura and the Hurunui District are still awaiting their fate as inspectors in the rattled districts steadily work through almost 5000 structural evaluations - with choppers being used to get them into the most isolated areas.

The 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit in the early hours of November 14, 60km southwest of the popular tourist town, led to thousands of landslips, closed major roads and has seriously damaged a couple of hundred properties, including homes and businesses.

Civil Defence building evaluations manager Mark Urlich said the limited, if not impossible, access to isolated parts of the Kaikoura district made getting a picture of the damage "logistically challenging".

"Because of the isolation and how some have been cut off we are using 4WDs and helicopters to get into the rural areas."


Urlich said so far inspections of 1527 commercial and residential properties have been completed - with 273 still needing to be assessed in Kaikoura.

Of those that have been assessed, 38 homes and six commercial properties in the town have been red-stickered meaning access was forbidden, including the New Commercial Hotel and local surf shop, Kaikoura Surf.

A further 150 homes and 50 businesses have been yellow-stickered, which meant access was restricted and 1083 homes and 200 businesses had effectively been given the all-clear with a white sticker.

Urlich expected the final tally on the property damage to be available later in the week.

Meanwhile, Hurunui District Council mayor Winton Dalley said 59 properties in his area had been red-stickered, with 179 receiving a yellow-sticker. So far 2785, of 3000 properties had been assessed with the rest currently being worked through.

Dalley said the damage was significant and made more complicated for an area that was spread out over a large region.

"While the main damage is the northern part, it's complicated by poor communication in terms of cellphone coverage, general isolation and lower quality roads."

To date, the Earthquake Commission had also received a total of 1001 claims for the Kaikoura region and 1083 for the Hurunui area.

However, with several hundred still awaiting a final inspection in his town, Kaikoura mayor Winston Gray expected the number of red-stickered buildings and claims could grow.

Gray said it was a shame to hear of some of the old-style colonial buildings could be written off and hoped they could be rebuilt.

"It's a shame...they were there when we were kids."

Harcourts Kaikoura business owner Mark Davis said at least one of his staff members was now out of a place to call home.

While Davis said it was still "too raw" for her to talk about publicly, he believed his staff were a "resilient and positive" bunch.

"Every day they are having to steel themselves for the reality," he said. "They are trying to get a real sense of what is next.

"The town is still really cut off, it survived on tourism and fishing and both of these industries have been upturned.

"The town was gearing up for one of their biggest years and now there's nothing, so people are certainly worrying about their jobs and their livelihood."

Davis said two weeks on from the earthquake things were quieter.

"I've noticed the looming dread, last week there was quite a lot of activity in the place, it was a bit of a warzone.

However, Davis was optimistic about the rebuild and what this would mean for the township's future.

"It will create an environment of opportunity," he said of the rebuild. "It's still a great place to live, it's not been flattened."

Gray said key to getting Kaikoura back up and running was reopening the main routes into the town.

"Another key thing is for us to get the harbour works done, get our dolphin encounter and whale-watching back on the water."

He said this, combined with the roads, could help get the town back to business as usual in time for next summer.

In the red: 38 houses
In the yellow: 150 yellow
In the white: 1083 white

In the red: Six: not really area, around block of Brighton Esplanade, Torquay St In the yellow: 50
In the white: 200

Hurunui District
In the red: 59
In the yellow: 179
In the white: 2547