Cyclone Gabrielle: Gisborne nurse still crossing river in inflatable raft after bridge destroyed a year ago

Imagine crossing a river in an inflatable dinghy to get home at 1am after working a late shift.

For one Gisborne nurse - a year after Cyclone Gabrielle - that's still the best commuting option she has.

Destroyed bridges and roads in the farming community of Tiniroto remain out of action and residents are desperate to get their access back.

How's this for Kiwi ingenuity? You almost have to see it to believe Tiniroto resident Sally Officer actually means it when she says she commutes across the river to get to work.

By 'across the river' she doesn't mean driving over the Doneraille Park bridge, because that was destroyed in the cyclone and remains untouched, still missing one half.

No - the Gisborne Hospital duty nurse manager, who often works in the city until midnight, is seriously jumping into her inflatable raft and paddling, often with a headlamp in the dark.

There is a long way around she can drive, but it doubles what should be a 45-minute journey.

After a year of this so-called temporary fix the novelty is wearing off.

"We've been notified that the bridge will be replaced and we are hopeful it will be in the next few months they'll start, but we really need central Government to release some funding to the council so we can get the project started," she said.

Residents say work is also needed on their main road into Gisborne, Tiniroto Road, which is still officially closed.

Locals have taken it upon themselves to clear it up and use it anyway because they feel it's safer than the 25km alternative that they describe as a "goat track".

Farmer Sam Hain's nearby woolsheds might be in use today, but this time last year they were nearly fully submerged.

While his farmland is still recovering he counts himself lucky because he still has access for stock trucks, unlike a lot of his neighbours.

"A few weeks after the cyclone we bought a digger, and I think that digger has been going every day since," he said.

"On farm, I'd say they're starting to rebuild their farms and rebuild their lives, but the infrastructure that's supporting these farms and communities is really battling. Still waiting on it to happen not knowing when those repairs are going to happen," added Federated Farmers NZ president Wayne Langford.

Tiniroto resident Kirsty Playle said some locals have taken on new jobs closer to home, so they don't risk being cut off by the next storm.

"Truck and trailers can't get into a lot of places, just everyday life as we said we can't even get the post in, getting gas in is a challenge," she said.

"A year on we're pretty much in the same boat."

And doesn't Sally Officer know it.