Head south from the sub-station at Livingstone, on the Otago side of the Canterbury-Otago border, and you'll find the Kakanui Range in the South Island of New Zealand.

It's in this rugged and beautiful terrain that the Ventia electricity team delivered critical work for Transpower as part of the Clutha Upper Waitaki Lines Project (CUWLP).

Scaling heights 

Through the first half of 2022 our 45-person strong team re-conductored a 21km section of the Roxburgh - Islington Transmission line, which stretches all the way from Lake Roxburgh in the south to Christchurch. The full line encompasses 1,084 towers, with 69 of them in the Ventia section.

The work to upgrade the carrying capacity took about four months, but a project of this nature requires a lot of planning before a tower is even climbed. Overall, from start to finish it was an 18-month project, although that was far quicker than a project of this nature might take historically. 

The original line was built in 1956 as one of the first big 220kV high-voltage transmission lines in the South Island. It remains one of the four main transmission lines to Christchurch today. The upgrade has increased the line's capacity from just above 600MW to more than 1000MW, helping to ensure a reliable electrical connection for growing communities throughout the South Island.

Transpower - Dansey

The Ventia team re-conductored a 21km section of the Roxburgh - Islington Transmission line, a stretch encompassing 69 towers.


Logistical challenges

The Ventia field team working on the project was made up of line mechanics, engineers, and support staff. 

Setting up at the Tokorahi Golf Course, 30 minutes inland from Oamaru, the team would head for the hills every day overcoming variable temperatures, the area's up-and-down topography, and the lack of cellphone service (the team communicated via radio).

The temperamental weather over summer added an extra challenge, with the expected 30-degree heat offset with more rain than they would have liked. The roads in the area where the teams worked in the Danseys Pass are mostly unsealed and are often visited by tourists sightseeing. This means the large trucks carrying heavy drums of cable and concrete block structure anchors needed to be led by a pilot vehicle wherever they went. 

Yet despite all the challenges, the team delivered this project ahead of schedule, playing a critical part in delivering a major upgrade to the South Island's energy network.

Watch our video below to find out more.