Work on a sewer line in Parnell that collapsed and opened a massive sinkhole will not begin until early next year and could take several months.
A subtle stench hangs in the air on St Georges Bay Road. Loud machinery pumps sewage uphill as workers supervise a big hole that used to be a carpark.
Parnell Business Association Manager Cheryl Adamson told Checkpoint the sewer's collapse and the subsequent disruptions were a big headache for the nearby shops and cafes.
"Part of the lower end of St Georges Bay Road, one lane is still completely closed," she said.
"Where they've erected the pump house is quite noisy, even though they've tried some noise mitigation, for the retailers ... it's like having a generator on all day."
In the months since the sinkhole opened in September Adamson said businesses had learned to live with it.
"There are odours from time to time, certainly not all the time, it kind of wafts in and wafts out," she said.
"Businesses have just accepted that this is a massive operation and Watercare are doing the very best they can."
She said Watercare's communication had been top notch, but there was still a long road ahead.
Watercare said the repairs would not begin until early next year once sections of glass-reinforced plastic liner had been flown in from Dubai.
Once the work started, Adamson expected it to take months.
"The biggest challenge now is to get the boulders up out of the actual pipe," she said.
"Once that's out, they've then got to put lining inside the pipe; so the estimates we've been given is completion end of March."
In a statement, Watercare's head of service delivery Sharon Danks said she expected the damaged section of pipe to be repaired by March.
"However, we hope to rehabilitate a larger section of pipe - on either side of the damaged area by the sinkhole - and this could take some time," she said.
But Danks said work to remove the boulders blocking the pipe was on track to be completed by Christmas.
The bypass pumping station is right in front of Sachie's Kitchen, a cooking school.
One of the staff, Jan, said the sights, sounds, and smells were a bit distracting.
"[There's a] sewage, open dumpster smell, but thankfully it comes out during the night," he said.
"The noise is the most inconvenient part of it, especially when we're holding classes."
Danks said Watercare was doing everything it could to minimise the stink.
"We have an enclosure over the temporary pump station, which reduces any noise or odours," she said.
"The sinkhole site is also covered to suppress any odours."
But Maansi, a worker at Tile Space, worried the smell would get worse before it got better.
"It's quite smelly," she said. "Around the summer is probably going to get worse ... It would be nice if they could get it done sooner, but I understand."
She said the disruption was confusing customers, with the business regularly fielding calls from people wondering whether it was open, as the road looked as if it was closed.
Adamson hoped the same thing would not happen elsewhere.
She said Auckland Council and Watercare needed to improve the city's infrastructure.
"Our biggest underlying concern is the ageing infrastructure under particularly older suburbs such as Parnell and perhaps even Ponsonby and other areas around the city.
"Parnell also suffered really badly with the floods in January, and part of that was also due to ageing infrastructure."
Danks said Watercare was planning a "significant investment" in Auckland's infrastructure.
"This includes a $3.5b programme of work over the next 10 years to replace and upgrade ageing water and wastewater pipes, and upgrade pump stations and treatment plants."