Dunedin residents evacuated from homes threatened by a slip last night will be able to return over the weekend, but just to retrieve more possessions.
The residents won't be able to stay in their homes and it is unclear when they will be able to return for good.
Dunedin City Council community services general manager Simon Pickford said it was possible they would be unable to spend Christmas in their homes. Engineers had visited the area, however, it would take some time to prepare a report on the extent of the damage, he said.
The occupants of the homes were ordered to evacuate their properties last night, following the discovery of a dangerous landslip that had opened up on the hill above after recent heavy rain.
Four dangerous building notices were issued by the council, to one house in Allandale Rd and three in Motu St, after council staff assessed a landslip on private land and found it posed "an imminent safety threat".
There was evidence of subsidence around the property and there was a "very real" possibility the house in Allandale Rd might slip down the hill and wipe out the three below in Motu St.
Residents were given an opportunity to return to their houses for a short time last night, to collect pets, some clothing and toiletries and will be able to return for a short time over the weekend.
Mr Pickford said agencies were working as fast as possible to assess what caused the slip and what could be done.