Monday’s massive quake blocked all road and rail access to the upper South Island town of Kaikoura. The only way in or out is by air or by sea.
There is roughly 3500 residents and 1000 tourists thought to be stranded in the area.
Four Air Force helicopters will fly out any one who wants to leave, and will also bring supplies into the town.
The Navy’s HMNZS Canterbury is due to arrive from Auckland this morning to provide further assistance.
Kaikoura is currently without sewerage or household water supply. Portaloos are being distributed, otherwise residents are encouraged to use a bucket or dig a hole.
It will take “at least a couple of days” to restore road access to the town.
It was another sleepless night for many residents in the upper South Island with hundreds of aftershocks rumbling through the area since Monday’s massive quake.
There have been more than 300 aftershocks since 7pm Monday night, and more than 830 since the magnitude-7.5 earthquake struck just after midnight on Monday morning
Prime Minister, John Key, said the cost of the clean up would run into the billions of dollars.