Bluecliffs residents evacuated as old dump, thought to contain explosives, cleared

Residents living in a small community at the bottom of the South Island are reeling after being given two days to evacuate so an old dump, thought to contain explosives, is cleared.  

It's another blow for Bluecliffs residents who have been living under a state of emergency since early February because of erosion under their homes. 

Last month, 3m of land washed away in just 24 hours.  

When an attempt to open the river bar to manage river flow failed, authorities turned their attention to an old dump, which could contain asbestos and explosives.  

Now, the 1km exclusion zone has forced residents out of their homes. 

On Thursday, retired Bluecliffs resident Chris Wood was among six permanent residents packing his car ready for three weeks away. 

"[I've got] my clothes and I've packed a bit of food," he told Newshub as he loaded belongings into his boot. 

Owners of cribs in the area have been asked to stay away too. 

"[It's] an incredibly stressful time for everyone and we just really wonder where... common sense has gone,” Bluecliffs beach crib owner Glenn Puna said. 

But officials are assuring locals help is available. 

"There'll be help for all of those people in terms of alternative accommodation," Emergency Management Southland's Lucy Hicks said. 

"From Monday, permanent residents will be able to come back in for an hour and half in the evenings to tend to the things that they need to." 

However, while the Ministry for the Environment recently put $1.35 million towards the clean-up, residents said the priorities are all wrong. 

"Protect the houses," Wood said. 

"We don't want the rubbish to go out to sea but we are probably more concerned about the damage being done behind our houses and no work being done to protect our homes," Puna added. 

Homes have been slapped with white stickers on Thursday but there's worry they are only one flood away from being red stickered.