More than a week since the closure of the Parapara Rd on State Highway 4, there is no timeframe for when a decision will be made on its future.
Jesse King asks what it means for the region.
NZTA revealed the initial findings from a geotechnical investigation into the landslide near the Matahiwi Track on Thursday and few questions were answered.
Due to how unstable the land is, the site of the slip has been closed, forcing geotechnical engineers to carry out their work remotely using drones.
The engineers determined that work to reinstate the road will be significant and complex, and more work is required before they can provide further answers.
Whanganui district councillor Helen Craig said the Parapara Rd is not failing for any reason other than massive under-investment in resilience by the Government via NZTA, while also allowing heavier loads under the H licence.
"It is only a matter of time before both impact severely on all our roading networks and the Parapara is the next off the rank," Craig said.
"Under-investment in maintenance gets more expensive and harder to fix the longer its delayed, so further delay isn't an option."
Craig owns a farm on SH4 and says all of New Zealand should be worried about what will be a long-term closure.
"The Parapara is a vital link between both ends of the North Island. When State Highway 1 is closed, then the Parapara is the only practical route," she said.
"Politicians need to fund roading adequately. They must stop playing Russian roulette with roading, it's our most basic requirement for a robust economy.
"The Regional Growth Fund and promises of supporting the provinces won't mean anything if the roading isn't functioning."
The Parapara Rd was closed on October 2 due to having an unstable surface, which developed into a huge crack overnight and ended in an entire hill face slipping away.
While there are detour routes in place such as the Whanganui River Rd and Fields Track, many people, services and business will be affected by a long-term closure.
The road opened in 1917, cutting the travel time between Raetihi and Whanganui in half. Locals celebrated a century of using it in 2017.
Professor of Geotechnical Engineering at the University of Auckland Michael Pender says the geotechnical professionals will want to assess the failure mechanism.
"Drones are wonderful modern technology that come into their element with this type of work," Pender said.
"Even so, eyes on and hands on are still important parts of the investigation. They need to understand the nature of the materials involved in the slip. "Drones aren't quite up to that."
Pender said the experts would be looking to determine how far below the road and how far into the slope above the road the slip extends.
Raetihi Holiday Park and Cabins is located on the Parapara Rd, owned by Rebecca Mead and Ben Adam, who also own Whanganui River Canoes.
Mead says the closure of the Parapara Rd will affect both businesses.
"The holiday park usually has lots of campervans driving past. We don't get that anymore. Now it's like we only see them if they make a wrong turn," she says.
"With the canoe trips, there has been a lot of rain so I can't say 100 per cent that it's because of the road being closed, but generally campervans would stop here at the park before driving down the Parapara."
Mead and Adam have business interruption insurance but it would be hard to work out what they are missing out on as they have many drive-in customers.
There has also been confusion for motorists as road signs show SH4 between Whanganui and Raetihi as closed, despite the detours coming off the same road.
Mead says it is hard for people to know where they should be going.
"In Raetihi we had an issue because the road closure signs were well north of the town, so people would turn off thinking that our town isn't even here," she says.
"The [Ruapehu] mayor [Don Cameron] has talked about that and he said that they were looking at having those signs removed and changed."
The change in routes also means much of the marketing Mead done for the summer now contains redundant information.
Mead took the time to clearly explain in magazines and on their website how visitors can get to Raetihi to stay at their holiday park or go canoeing with them.
She says she will have to redo it all and that will be a costly exercise.
"We have to find a way to remarket and let people know how they can get to us safely. We'll have to rewrite our website, it's a lot of work.
"Every month, magazines contact us asking which ads to place and things like that. Some companies have full time marketers, but here it's me doing all the jobs."
Other issues Mead had with the road closure included added travel time to Whanganui, inexperienced drivers on the alternate routes and the possibility locals would have to use Taumarunui Hospital in the event of an emergency.
How the road closure would affect emergency services was of concern to many people including Whanganui mayor Hamish McDouall.
Police had little to say about the matter, with Whanganui area commander Nigel Allan saying the road closure will have no impact on police operations.
"Police deploy resources where and when necessary to best serve members of the public," Allan said.
St John Ambulance Ruapehu territory manager Nigel Watson says the closure does have an impact on Raetihi and Ohakune in particular.
"If we had an ambulance come down from Whanganui, obviously it would take too long for them to get here now because of the closure," Watson said.
"We have a double-crewed ambulance in Taihape, they often come to support the Ohakune area. We also have a double-crewed ambulance in Taumarunui."
St John will still predominantly transport patients to Whanganui Hospital via SH1 and have rescue helicopters available for those who are critically unwell.
Patients could also be transported from Raetihi or Ohakune to Taumarunui Hospital if required, as it is now the closest one to the Ruapehu towns.
Watson said it was hard to say how a long-term closure would impact St John, but it is something they will continue monitoring week-by-week.
"St John have been through this. We responded to the Christchurch and Kaikoura earthquakes where State Highway 1 was essentially cut off," he said,
"We have learned from that and we have done some modelling with our software systems online around the closure to State Highway 4."
The travel time for St John ambulances to Whanganui from Raetihi/Ohakune is now two-and-a-half hours instead of one-and-a-half.
NZTA's recommended detour route for motorists is via SH1 and SH49, which will add at least one hour to journeys.
Whanganui District Council and Ruapehu District Council are meeting with NZTA officials next week to discuss timeframes and what will happen in the interim.