City caught out by blackout on dancefloor

20:37, Dec 22 2013

Hundreds of Christmas revellers were plunged into darkness at the weekend.

Just before 3am on Saturday morning a Powerco fault caused a power cut to around 7000 properties in New Plymouth, including the entire central business district.

When the lights went out in the bars, countless clubbers were left stumbling around in the darkness.

Doc van Praagh, of Crowded House, said the bar went dark around 2.55am.

"The lights and the music just cut out and a bar full of people had to get their cellphones out to be able to see anything," he said.

As the clubbers poured out on to a dark main street the staff at Crowded House were left to clean the bar by torchlight.


"We had no power. We couldn't ring off the till or total the eftpos or anything," he said.

Stacey Lamb, of Club 55, said his bar's emergency lighting came on almost instantly, which helped to get people out onto the street.

However, having hundreds of clubbers pouring on to a dark main street was not ideal, Mr Lamb said.

"I'm not sure it was the best idea to put them all outside in the darkness.

"We had light inside but we couldn't let people stay in the bar because it was 3am. But I reckon it would have been safer for them in the premises," he said.

With hundreds of party people on the streets Mr Lamb said the situation could have descended into chaos.

"It was a lengthy cut and trouble could have started, but it didn't.

"Luckily everyone was well behaved.

"It was surreal though, there were no lights on anywhere. It was a bit eerie," he said.

A spokesperson from the New Plymouth Police said about 10 police cars had been sent to the CBD to illuminate the dark streets using the vehicles' headlights.

"We had to ensure people's personal safety.

"Having hundreds of intoxicated people stumbling around in the dark was not good."

The widespread power cut lasted for three hours in some places and was caused by a fault in Powerco's electricity network.

Powerco network operations manager Phil Marsh said the incident occurred when an 11,000-volt underground cable failed.

Power supply was restored to around 5000 properties within an hour and all supply was restored by 6.15am.

Repairs to the damaged section of cable are being made.

Taranaki Daily News