Burger King is set to reopen 41 restaurants that were shut down by the gas leak in the major Maui pipeline near New Plymouth.

The fast food giant closed all of its stores north of Taranaki on Tuesday evening, after gas was cut to its flame cookers.

Spokeswoman Rachael Allison said gas supplier Nova had given it permission to reopen the 41 restaurants for dinner tonight - with some menu restrictions.

"It's good to be open for business again," she said.

Advertisement

Meanwhile, crematoriums are also back up and running in Auckland after their fuel supplies were cut off by the gas leak in the Maui pipeline.

None of Auckland's three crematoria were working yesterday due to the fault at the pipeline in the remote White Cliffs area in Taranaki.

Auckland Council has had to scramble for alternative fuel supplies to reopen its cremation services.

It said one crematory would be operating at Manukau Memorial Gardens from 3pm today.
Crematoria at Waikumete Cemetery and North Shore Memorial Park would be reopened from 3pm on Friday.

Parks, Sports and Recration manager Ian Maxwell said council officers had worked "tirelessly" with engineers to restore cremation services.

"Our energy supplier has given us priority and we don't anticipate any further disruption to this vital service."

Meanwhile, Council pools were still operating at reduced temperatures, and without hot water in its showers or changing rooms.

Erosion of the earth under the pipeline is thought to have caused a 13cm rupture in the Maui pipeline.

Advertisement

Vector chief executive Simon McKenzie told Radio New Zealand good progress had been made overnight, with excavation around the faulty section of the pipe completed.

"At this stage the hope is the pipe line is repaired in two to three days," Mr McKenzie said.
Mr McKenzie said the 30-year-old pipe was in good condition

Thousands of businesses have been ordered to stop using gas to avoid depleting pressure in the pipeline, while residential customers and essential services have been asked to reduce their usage to a minimum.

The Manukau District Health Board cancelled some elective surgeries because it was unable to use gas for heating or sterilisation.

But frustrated restaurant and bar owners are refusing the directive, even as the leak becomes classified as a "critical contingency" under Government legislation.

"It's a slap in the face. It's the miscommunication - no one knows what the hell's going on," said Hospitality Association Auckland branch president Warren Stewart.

"It's another utility system that's failed ... It's a disaster, quite frankly. Every restaurant, bar and hotel - 90 per cent of us cook on gas."

The hospitality sector accounts for less than 1 per cent of total natural gas use, according to figures from Statistics New Zealand and the Ministry of Economic Development.

"We're going to be rebel ... The response I've given to the membership is continue to use it but be mindful."

Bar owners had received only a text message from the gas company with a link to a website - and no other communications, Mr Stewart said.

In the past, businesses had fallen over because of power outages, and the same would happen if they shut down for a gas-supply failure, he said.

Burger King closed most of its stores in the upper North Island yesterday, and a woman staying at the five-star Langham Hotel said guests had been forced to have cold showers.

Les Mills gyms also lost their hot water, and 15 Auckland swimming pools turned off their boilers.

Community Leisure Management general manager Craig Carter said swimming lessons for 6000 children at its six pools had been cancelled. The pools could stay open to adults for another day.

"We'll have to make some hard decisions. It's very, very frustrating."

John Hall, operations manager of Cryovac Sealed Air, which provides packaging for hundreds of supermarket brands, said part of its operations in Hamilton would be out of action probably until Friday, costing it tens of thousands of dollars.

Vector chief executive Simon McKenzie said the demand for gas had dropped significantly after requests to curtail usage, enough to keep up a continuous flow at current levels. "That's as long as people don't take more pressure out of the pipeline."

Gas Industry Company chief executive Steve Bielby said the message to frustrated businesses was that others had been complying. "They're looking at each other and saying, 'Hey, this is hurting me, are you taking your share?' and I can say that is the case."

BNZ economist Doug Steel said the leak's economic impact would dent the year's final performance figures.

"It seems to us to be taking the gloss off the fourth-quarter GDP ... that quarter itself was looking like it could be quite strong because of the spending associated with the Rugby World Cup."

NZIER principal economist Shamubeel Eaqub said $40 million to $75 million was being lost every day.

Goodman Fielder last night was preparing to fire up the ovens at three North Island bakeries after winning essential service dispensation.

Bakeries at Rotorua, Huntly and Auckland were out of action yesterday.

The company bakes about a third of the country's bread, including Nature's Fresh and Vogel's lines.

"There might be a bit of a shortage and some restricted lines but nothing for people to fret over," said managing director Peter Reidie