Christchurch power cut mystery

Orion is still investigating the mystery cause of a power cut to thousands of Christchurch customers overnight.

The fault happened at about 9.30pm and resulted in the loss of power to about 30,000 customers in the north and north-west of the city.

Power was quickly restored to 12,000 addresses, an Orion spokesman said. It was restored to all customers within three and a half hours.

Orion chief executive Rob Jamieson said the fault occurred on a 9 km high voltage line running from Islington to Papanui, which was responsible for much of the power in the north of the city.

''Last night, and again at first light this morning, our crews walked the line to try and find the fault and we have found no obvious cause.

We are continuing to investigate what caused this rare type of outage,'' he said.

''Although very unfortunate ... hopefully this outage can serve as a reminder for everyone to have a backup plan for when power does go."


Residents took to social media to report the outages, with St Albans, Mairehau, Merivale, Papanui and Northwood among those affected.

Keryn Cottier said on Facebook that Christchurch was "an eerie ghost town".

"Full blackout. No traffic lights, street lights, normal power. Eeep creepy."

Christchurch resident Troels Nielsen said the power cut was "bloody inconvenient".

"I was in the middle of washing my clothes, when the power went out. I'm travelling today and all my clothes are still wet."

Orion restored power to about 10,000 people within a short period but by 11 o'clock last night there were about 19,000 Christchurch residents still without power, the company said.

Orion was also managing outages in the Leeston, Little Rakaia and Southbridge area.

The network company was able to restore power to some areas by "switching" across the network, and believed a single fault on the network was to blame for the outages.

Among those most affected was a small group of people that became stuck in an elevator in Northlands Mall, Christchurch fire shift manager Andrew Norris said.

The fire service had received calls from Orion earlier to see if there had been a motor vehicle crash that might have caused the outage, but there had not, Norris said.

Stations in St Albans and Wairakei Rd were without power.

"It seems to be the northwest side of the city that is affected. It's not a small area."

The outages also affected street lighting throughout the city.

The Press