Around forty Kāti Kuri iwi members including tamariki are making their way home to Kaikōura for the first time since the November 14 earthquake north of Canterbury.
A convoy including two 22-seater mini buses organised by Te Rūnaka o Kaikōura are now heading north along the severely damaged Inland Road (State Highway 70), after leaving Te Waipounamu House in Ōtautahi at 6am.
The journey is an exciting moment for Mangamaunu man Jeremy Rae who sustained a foot injury from the quake. "I'm pretty happy to be going back," he told Native Affairs reporter Oriini Kaipara who is travelling with the whānau.
"My foot's better now so I'm ready to go back. If there are any more earthquakes I can move around. It's time to go back and help my whānau sort everything out."
More than 160 whānau were evacuated from Kaikōura, most finding shelter with other whānau and friends in Christchurch.
Today's evacuees will receive a whakatau, hākari, food and general supply packages as well as Christmas gifts from Te Rūnaka o Kaikōura at Takahanga Marae around midday.