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Northland businesses struggle with ongoing closure of vital section of State Highway 1

The ongoing closure of a stretch of State Highway 1 in the far north is hitting locals and businesses in the pocket.

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Major slips have closed SH1 at the Mangamuka Gorge for months. Source: 1 NEWS

Major slips have closed SH1 at the Mangamuka Gorge for months and it'll be weeks before the road is even partially reopened.

The closure came back in July after Northland's one-in-500-year flood.

Eight slips have completely blocked the highway since and it has been made worse by ongoing rainfall, NZ Transport Agency’s Jacqui Hori-Hoult told 1 NEWS.

“Not only have we discovered we've had the major underslip where the road has actually completely given way but we've also got an overslip that is sitting above that,” Hori-Hoult said.

“It's made the job really complex.”

It means those south of the slip trying to travel north have to take State Highway 10 currently, which goes via Kerikeri and Kaeo and adds at least half an hour to the journey.

While 30 minutes may not seem like much, businesses such as Mangonui Haulage – one of the biggest employers in the Kaitaia area – is feeling the effects heavily.

With a fleet of around 35 trucks, the current road closure is costing them upwards of $8,000 a week.

“We’re sort of adding around 50 kilometres a day on to a round trip if we’re going south so with the amount of vehicles we've got going south every day, it adds up,” company spokesperson Sean Sparkman said.

“There’s extra road user charges, extra fuel, extra wages, extra wear and tear.”

Other businesses such as Eliza Kete’s dairy are also hurting.

“I'm down by at least 50 per cent of my business,” Kete said.

“People normally come through in the early hours of the morning - truck drivers, service people, workers - going through to Kaitaia.

“But with it being closed, there's no one.”

NZTA hopes to have one lane open to light traffic by early November.