A woman trapped inside a lift for more than an hour this morning has spoken out about the "scary" ordeal.

Call centre agent Anna Casaje, 44, was on her way up to her level seven Whitaker Pl apartment in Grafton when she got trapped.

Mrs Casaje, who had just returned from visiting family in Palmerston North, said she knew there was "something wrong" when she got into the lift with her bags at 6.40am.

"When the doors shut the lift shook up and down slightly, I knew it wasn't normal."


Mrs Casaje said when it reached her floor she heard a loud bang and saw the lights flicker on and off above her. The doors would not open.

She said she pressed the emergency button repeatedly, but there was no response.

The woman called her friend who lives in an apartment a floor below.

Mrs Casaje's friend gave her the number for The Whitaker apartments to call.

"I rang the manger again and again, but it kept going to voicemail."

She said it was "very scary" but her friend stood outside the lift's doors to keep her calm.

After 30 minutes of calling and no response Mrs Casaje rang her husband, who told her not to "waste her time" and to call emergency services.

"I had been stuck in the lift for almost an hour when I called 111," Mrs Casaje said.

Northern fire communications shift manager Jaron Phillips said after getting the keys to the lift, firefighters were able to rescue the woman in a matter of minutes.

Mrs Casaje said she got "a bit of fright" when the doors opened; the lift was stuck between two levels, with a floor above and below her.

"They had to haul my bags up first and then me by my arms," she said.

She finally walked out of the lift at 7.50am.

"I'm nervous to use the lift again, it scares me a lot."

The Whitaker manager, who refused to disclose his name, said he was on his way to work when the incident happened.

He said he did not pick up his phone because he was driving.

The Whitaker manager said the emergency button must be "held down for three seconds", not pushed repeatedly which is why Mrs Casaje received no response.

"By the time I arrived she had already been freed, but a Schindler's Lifts operator and myself checked the emergency button and it was working," he said.

The manager said a notice with an emergency number for Schindler Lifts has been installed inside the lifts to prevent the incident from happening again.

Northern fire communications said it isn't the first time firefighters have been called to help occupants trapped in the same lift. Two people were also freed in 2008.

- Additional reporting: Belinda Feek