Pole top photography - Summer 2021-22

Tuesday, July 05, 2022

Between November 2021 and March 2022, we used pole top photography to survey 46,870 power poles on our rural electricity network across the Coromandel, Manawatu, Wairarapa, Taranaki, western Bay of Plenty, and South Waikato regions. 

By taking high resolution digital photographs of our overhead lines, poles and associated hardware, we can more efficiently assess the condition of our assets, check for defects and monitor vegetation that could grow into our overhead power lines. Our team can then use this information to fix potential issues before they cause outages for our customers. 

In our latest inspection we found 204 high-risk network defects, which our crews have since repaired. This is more defects than we found in the previous year – a result of us surveying more poles than any previous pole top programme. 

Importantly, these defects would likely have been missed in our standard inspections due to the angle of the pole. During inspections on the ground, our crews are looking up at the pole and can’t see what’s happening on the top – the great thing about our pole top photography programme is that we can carry out inspections from above and find defects we might otherwise have missed. 

We know that helicopters can sometimes disturb animals (particularly for our rural customers) or events, so we advertised the project via digital advertising, Facebook and newspapers so that our customers could let us know if they had concerns. Our advertising saw more than 2,300 new people visit our website to learn more about the project. Once there, customers were also able to register their concerns through an online form, which our Customer Experience team could then address with them.

Picture of crossarm with defect

Example of defect - the crossarm has split and the insulator is almost loose. 

Pole top defect

The top of the pole has deteriorated with the potential for bolts to get loose.