The Coromandel is just days away from being stitched back together with a bridge due to open any day - reconnecting one side of the peninsula to the other.
It has been a long year for communities coping without State Highway 25A, which was left with a yawning chasm after the summer storms.
For some, it meant long detours - for others, it meant moving house, or boarding with others, to be able to get to work and school.
But ahead of time and under budget, the new connection is all but ready to go.
Crews have been working 24/7 to complete the 124m bridge - something the prime minister said he wanted to see more of for other big projects around the country.
The last licks of paint and final checks are now being completed and residents will be able to drive across the peninsula again by Wednesday, if not before.
Project director Hugh Milliken described the moment he got the call from Waka Kotahi to come and take a look at the damage.
"[We] immediately realised that it would be very, very challenging," he said.
"It was immediately obvious that it needed to be a bridge and it was immediately obvious that it would need a very high level of effort. We came away down the site really energised, but at the same time, man, we need to get on with this."
Usually, this type of bridge would take 12 to 14 months to construct, but this one took less than seven.
The cost of the completed project is now expected to be about $43 million, less than earlier estimates of up to $50m.
"We've run afternoon shifts and night shifts and seven days a week. We've never let time be a factor. If we've had to resource it and we've had to work all the hours, we have resourced it and we've worked all hours," Milliken said.
Prime Minister Christopher Luxon said the project should be the blue print for other major roading repairs around the country, such as the Brynderwyns.
"A big part of it is being able to work 24/7 and being able to make sure that you can press the time. If it means you can work three shifts in a day rather than just one, you can get the job done three times faster.
"I think this is a gold-plated example of what we want to see a lot more of around the country."
Five-hundred soil nails have been used to treat the unstable land and 75 tonnes of concrete have been pumped in.
About 200 people have been part of the project, many leaving their families and moving to the area to get the job done.
Waka Kotahi regional infrastructure manager Jo Wilton said the feedback they had had made that all worth it.
"The team got this beautiful Christmas card that was from the Tairua Primary School, where they'd all drawn us pictures of the slip, of the bridge, and written us all individual messages and just told us what a brilliant job we're doing. That kind of thing is just gold for us."
Restoring the vital link which cut the community in half was extremely rewarding, Wilton said.
"Just a brilliant, brilliant outcome for us to be able to go, 'We've done it early and we've opened it up so that the Coromandel can enjoy hopefully a really, really sunny summer'."
Thames-Coromandel Mayor Len Salt was echoing these hopes.
After catastrophic losses due to Covid-19, SH25A was the last nail in the coffin for many businesses, Salt said.
"We know that over the last 12 months it's cost our local business communities around $90 - $91 million at least - that's just in Eftpos and credit card transactions. We know that the number's actually more than that."
With the re-opening set for 20 December or slightly before, Salt was hoping the return of the holiday homeowners and tourists would be the kiss of life they desperately need.
"I'm going to make a prediction that we are looking to probably one of the best summers that we've ever had. I'm hoping I'm right. It's been so tough that the only place we can go is up."
To mark the occasion, the council put on a celebratory lunch, to thank workers for building their bridge.