Stranded residents of a small village north of Kaikoura have finally got road access after being stuck between two landslides for four months.

The residents of Rakautara were forced to use wheelbarrows and other ingenious methods to transport their groceries as they waited for 10,000cu m of slip material blocking State Highway 1 south of the village to be cleared.

In the months since the magnitude 7.8 quake on November 14, the 12 residents only had one way out.

They would walk 20 minutes through railway tunnels and over seaside boulders to arrive at a makeshift car park.

From there they would start the 20km drive to Kaikoura.

Now residents can drive in and out in of the village in escorted convoys, three times a day.

Rakautara's Barry Campbell used a wheelbarrow to get his groceries home; others used quad-bikes.

Now, the shopping bags go in the car boot.

"It's really, really good, especially if you want to stock up."

The convoys on the newly cleared road can take up to an hour.

Before the quakes, the drive would take just 15 minutes, but residents like Campbell are just happy they don't have to walk or worry about safety.

"It's very rarely you'd ever get right through in one shot, but if you see the rock they're bringing down, I wouldn't be that comfortable driving through if I knew they were loose."

Although residents can drive along State Highway 1 south, the northern part of the highway is still littered with slips.

"It's not exactly anybody's fault. There's anything up to 11 choppers sluicing just north of us here from early in the morning 'til late at night; they're working full bore onto it.

"They've been there for ages. The geo-tech guys, they're up on the hillside every day."

One family with children moved away for three weeks after the quake, but since
December everyone has been back in the village.

"With no water and no power here, and with young children, it was the sensible thing to do."

The best part of the new road is the sense of normality it has brought back, Campbell said.

For four months his wife Wendy only came back to Rakautara on weekends because she didn't work in the village.

Now the road is partly open, she has been able to move home.

"The wife, she works in Kaikoura, and she gets to come home at night times now.


"Before it was just so much of an effort to back and forward through the tunnels and that, whereas now she drives in and out each day."