Unstable slips, sharp bends and eroding cliffs- it's a reality many drivers using Whanganui's SH4 Parapara Rd nearly every day are used to.

But is Whanganui's most dangerous road getting worse?

Last week a man died from a falling rock after stopping to remove debris off the road.

This week the road was closed for two days while road workers installed concrete safety barriers to stop yet another slip from endangering drivers.

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The Chronicle counted 25 slips on the 80km stretch from Whanganui to Raetihi, many of which had been cleared off to a single lane.

Angel Joyce who volunteers at Raetihi's Information Centre said for many people the road was their lifeline.

"Some residents are using the road nearly every day."

Ms Joyce said since the 2015 storm, it's been a real major.

"It's caused a lot of problems, especially for people who are travelling that road nearly every day."

But like many other residents the Chronicle spoke to, she said there wasn't a lot more that could be done.

"The road is fragile and there is always going to be problems with slips, that's just the reality."

New Zealand Transport Agency regional transport systems manager Ross I'Anson said emergency works were still taking place to fix damage from the 2015 storm.

He said by 2019 a total of $45 million would have been spent on emergency works to fix the damage done in the 2015 storm. That's on top of the $263,000 after Cyclone Debbie in 2016, and the $635,000 after last year's snow storm.

Mr I'Anson said the Paraparas had several bluffs along its length and the papa was particularly susceptible to weathering.

"Due to the unstable nature of papa it is extremely difficult to predict exactly where or when a specific part of the slope may fail."

Despite all the money that was being poured into responding to emergencies, this year was the first year since 2015 that funds have been allocated to preventive work.

Mr I'Anson said $450,000 was being spent on safety alliance barrier installation.

"Since 2015 our efforts have been focused on carrying out emergency works in response to the numerous severe weather events which have affected various parts of the road."

Higgins installs concrete safety barriers to stop rocks falling onto the road. Photo/ Bevan Conley
Higgins installs concrete safety barriers to stop rocks falling onto the road. Photo/ Bevan Conley

Another slip near Otoko Pa has also creating more work. Last year $270,000 was spent on repairing it and this year an additional $1,130,000.

Raetihi Holiday Park owner Rebecca Mead says she relies on the road staying open to keep business flowing.

"We've got kayakers paddling all the way to Whanganui and bikers riding to Whanganui so we are always picking up their gear or dropping bags down to them.

"At the moment we are using the River Rd, if that's closed then we have to go through Taihape and that adds at least another 45 minutes to the journey."

She said the road being closed at the moment wasn't too bad because it had been a quiet week but any other time could have a real impact on business.

"If the road closes over Easter, it will be a big deal.

"We do have to check with our customers where they are booking from and how they plan to get here because you never know."

She was also using the road every couple of days to get supplies for her family.

Major slip 2km south of the Fields Track turnoff caused closure of road for two days. Photo/ Bevan Conley
Major slip 2km south of the Fields Track turnoff caused closure of road for two days. Photo/ Bevan Conley

Ms Mead said what she found the most frustrating was the lack of communication to notify her if the road is open or not, or how long it will stay closed.

"When I'm running a business and I've got people booked in next week, and I have no idea what's happening it does cause problems."

"It would be good if NZTA could communicate clearly with the businesses that are reliant on the road."

But Ms Mead acknowledged the work that was being done to repair the slips.

"It's one of those places where it is really hard to prevent damage, it's just the type of land that we live on, we are just all used to it."