Raetihi residents are concerned large slips on State Highway Four, the main route into the area, could impede their access to Whanganui Hospital and cripple local businesses for months.
Heavy rain two weeks ago has caused slips on the highway. Road surfaces over 300 metres are cracked and crumbled in the area about 40 minutes’ drive south of Raetihi.
The town relies on passing trade. The impact on local businesses and access to Whanganui were at the forefront of residents’ minds at a public meeting today, with residents wanting answers over how long repairs would take.
Residents are worried the lack of business could mean people could not afford to live in the area.
"I know from the past when we've had that road closed, we struggle,” one resident said.
The state highway closure will add an extra hour by ambulance to Whanganui.
"I know they say they've got helicopters but they can't always fly,” another resident said.
Safety concerns mean the New Zealand Transport Agency has not been able to get closer to the slip.
NZTA’s Mark Owen said geo-technical experts have told the agency up to 30 hectares of the area could slump.
“The area that's moved is probably only half of the potential area that could move,” he said.
Mr Owen said the potential for slips was not identified earlier because “it’s just the nature of the country” around the area.
“We've got a river eating away at a road. We've got a very steep bank on the other side.
“It’s pretty challenging to find what the viable solution is.”
Over 1,000 people live in Raetihi according to 2018 estimates by Stats NZ.