Civil Defence in Taupo is busy bussing the drivers of the 168 abandoned cars on SH5 between Napier and Taupo out to retrieve their cars.
The NZ Army will be ferrying the drivers from the Rangitaiki Tavern to their vehicles via Unimogs, as road conditions are still marginal.
The road remains closed until further notice, and drivers will be returning to Taupo once getting to their cars. The cars were left overnight, and were locked and secure with security services monitoring at all times.
Hastings District Council are hoping to have all the cars removed from the Napier side of the Summit Kiosk as soon as possible and ask anyone to get in touch with them if they have an abandoned car there. Taupo District Council estimate it will take until late afternoon to clear the Taupo side, subject to weather conditions.
Hundreds of drivers of the abandoned vehicles on the Taupo side of SH5 met at the Great Lake Centre in Taupo this morning. Civil Defence staff organised the bus loads in order of the first vehicles able to be accessed.
Anyone who was unable to attend the meeting and has a vehicle on the road needs to report to the Great Lake Centre as soon as possible, or ring 0800 ASK TDC for more information.
Travellers wanting to travel through Taupo on SH5 or the Desert Road are advised to keep an eye on the weather and check roading websites tomorrow for further updates. Roading websites include www.transit.govt.nz and www.aaroadwatch.co.nz
The state of emergency is still in place, and the road will remain closed until Civil Defence lift the declaration.