Power has been restored to another 6000 Cantabrians, but up to 15,000 are still without power after a vicious storm.
Residents in areas west and north of Christchurch, and some in the city, experienced a second night in darkness, and power companies have warned that some may be off the grid for up to five days.
Millions of dollars worth of insurance claims were also expected after the wild winds and thunderstorms that felled trees, downed power poles, sparked scrub fires, overturned vehicles and sent roofs and debris flying.
Orion chief executive Rob Jamieson said power was still out to 9,000 customers between the Waimakariri and Rakaia rivers and Arthur's Pass.
About 4000 homes had power restored overnight, following on from the 13,000 who got power back yesterday - 60 per cent of the 28,000 who lost power across the network on Tuesday night.
Most of those still without power were in the rural region west of Christchurch.
"Our crews are already out working and we hope to continue to make good progress today in restoring power," Jamieson said.
Crews were working as quickly as they could, but some people could be without power for another four days.
"Until access allows us to determine the full extent of the repairs required, we are unable to give more precise details on this," he said.
MainPower, which services North Canterbury and Kaikoura, estimated that 6000 residents were without power last night, down from a peak of 12,000 yesterday morning.
The company's engineering manager, Pete Hurford, said remote areas were proving difficult to access, and power cuts were centred on the Swannanoa, Mandeville and Clarkville areas and smaller communities around Waipara and Cheviot.
"There's been lots of damage in those areas. Hopefully we'll make a dent in it tomorrow and by Friday I'm hoping we'll have most of it done," he said.
Twelve schools were forced to close across the region yesterday because of the cuts.
The 250 pupils at Fernside School are today enjoying a second day off.
Principal David Taylor said he hoped the school would reopen tomorrow, but staff still needed to figure out a way of making the dozens of fallen trees at the back of the school premises safe.
"Our kids are pretty good ... But it's what happens in the weekend. We'd used [the plantation] as a BMX-type track."
Taylor said he had never experienced as many school closures as he had over the past couple of years.
"There's been earthquakes, snow and now this,'' he said.
"When I was a kid at school the only time the school closed that I remember was when the Pope died. I don't remember anything like this; it's been a run."
Orana Wildlife Park is also likely to remain closed for several days as workers move to clear trees and debris that brought down power at the zoo.
Spokesman Nathan Hawke said the 70 species of animals at the park were all safe and contained.
There were no problems with electric fences being down because the storm occurred at night when the animals were locked up.
"We always worry how they are faring because there was a lot of noise, but they are well fed and looked after," he said.
The park was told to plan for five days without power and the whole of McLeans Island was littered with debris.
Hawke said the public would not be able to access Orana even it was open.
Insurance Council chief executive Tim Grafton said he could not yet put a dollar figure on the cost of the destruction as claims were likely to be coming in for some time.
"It will be several weeks before we get any data on it," he said.
"One would expect it to be [in the millions], but exactly how much I don't know."
Some state highways remain closed today.
The Lewis Pass and Haast Pass are still closed because of flooding, while snow, trees and avalanches have blocked the only road to Milford Sound.
Caution is advised on the following roads:
- State Highway 65, O'Sullivans Bridge to Springs Junction (flooding and strong winds).
- SH73, Christchurch to Springfield (high winds).
- SH73, Otira to Kumara (severe flooding and strong winds).
- SH73, Springfield to Arthur's Pass and Otira (high winds).
- SH6, Fox Glacier to Haast (flooding).
- SH8, Cromwell to Alexandra (slip).
The Selwyn District Council has advised there are no issues with water quality around the district, but the ability to pump and store water has been affected because of continued power cuts.
Generators are being shared around affected water supplies and water could be "on-off" while they are being moved.
Residents are asked to conserve water by not using dishwashers, hoses and washing machines and limiting other water use where possible.
Fallen trees have caused blockages in some parts of the water race network, particularly in the lower Ellesmere area.
The council said contractors were clearing the blockages, but the work was likely to take some time.
The Selwyn Aquatic Centre will stay closed today.
Several Canterbury schools also remain closed today while they wait for power and water services to be restored.
Schools still closed include:
- Darfield High School (except for year 11-13 pupils taking exams).
- Fernside School.
- Ashley School.
- Ellesmere College.
- Ohoka School.
- Springston Primary.
- Kirwee School.
Fire crews continued to battle new and reignited fires well into last night.
A Fire Service spokeswoman said a large forest fire in Cramptons Bush Rd, near Amberley, was still burning, and two firefighters were monitoring the situation as a "safety precaution".
Waipara Hotel owner Jo Williams said last night that the restaurant was expecting a "busy night" for hungry locals without power.
"We've got three-quarters of our power back. Some plugs and things are still not working, so we've got extension cords running everywhere. We've got lots of people coming in for a meal."
Sheffield resident Greta Brown said the power cut was "annoying because we can look half a kilometre down the road and see people with power".
However, the family would be fine because they had "all the components of an emergency kit scattered around the house" after power cuts in previous wind and snowstorms and the earthquakes.
- © Fairfax NZ News