Whanganui and Ruapehu tourism agencies will focus on the Whanganui River Rd route as they work to keep travellers in the know about the State Highway 4 slip.

A section of the state highway has been closed since the start of the month when the road and surrounding ground became unstable and eventually slipped away.

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Visit Ruapehu held a meeting with several local business owners, Ruapehu district councillors and community group leaders in Raetihi on Monday evening.

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Visit Ruapehu general manger Jo Kennedy said she was impressed with the resilience coming out of the Raetihi community.

"A couple of them turned up with proposals and promotion ideas, so we've got some really talented people who are giving their time," Kennedy said.

"All in all it's pretty positive considering it's a big landslide and not what anyone wanted."

The State Highway 4 slip between Raetihi and Whanganui. Photo / Mark Brimblecombe
The State Highway 4 slip between Raetihi and Whanganui. Photo / Mark Brimblecombe

Part of the meeting also confirmed promotion of Whanganui River Rd was the best way for travellers to get between Whanganui and Raetihi.

"The Whanganui River has its own identity and internationally there's a lot of people who are interested in driving that route," Kennedy said.

"It gives us a kick start to summer to get all our information right and promote it in a way so people are safe and respectful to iwi and other people who live on the road."

Visit Ruapehu will also provide support to businesses by ensuring their online presence is up to date and accessible by potential customers.

Ruapehu District Council's destination development manager Warren Furner said it'll be a nice alternative for tourists to enjoy.

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"It is definitely a 'take your time, spend a day' journey as opposed to a commuter route, so we're definitely targeting the tourism aspect.

"We're trying to support the business community with visitors and not encourage commuting down that road."


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Kennedy said McCarthy Transport has promised it will leave Whanganui River Rd to tourists, and will instead use State Highway 1 for its truck movements.

Whanganui and Partners chief executive Mark Ward said the wider economic impact of the road closure is a major concern.

"An economic report that was commissioned following the flood in 2015 predicted that a month-long closure would result in a $10.7 million dollar loss to New Zealand's GDP over six months following the event.

"$2.9m of this relates to the Manawatu–Whanganui region so there's an impact on our local economy but also the country as a whole."

Ward said reliance on State Highway 1 for northbound travel "is more than an inconvenience".

"It's a handbrake on our growth and makes the whole lower North Island extremely vulnerable to incidents on an already overworked highway," he said.

"Our economy needs efficient, reliable and resilient connectivity to the north and we need it as soon as possible.

"We're concerned that we will be bypassed not only by the many visitors who typically arrive via SH4, but also visitors travelling north, who may skip Whanganui because of a perceived lack of northern connection."

The slip won't result in any changes or extra work on Whanganui and Partners' planned marketing campaigns with the agency's main summer campaign set to target areas east and south of Whanganui.

It's a similar case for Visit Ruapehu which was already planning promotion of the Whanganui River Rd for the summer period.