Media have been taken into the Ruakaka site where a ruptured jet fuel pipeline was discovered last week.

The first look at the site has been arranged by Refining New Zealand, which is facing increasing scrutiny over the forced shutdown of fuel supplies, which has caused international flights to be cancelled and petrol shortages around the top of the North Island.

The tour is being undertaken with high security.

Northern Advocate reporter Lindy Laird said there was a strong smell of aviation fuel in the air.


"Large pits have been dug, exposing parts of the pipe," she said.

"There's a real sense of urgency at the site itself.

"While it initially looks like an agricultural dig on a farm site, the amount of machinery and technical equipment reveals it's a more industrial dig.

"At the site, there are several large holes - at least three - and there are piles of soil spread around."

An emergency services supervisor said the hydrocarbon risk had been mitigated and welding on the ruptured section could begin as soon as Thursday..

Despite the strong jet fuel smell emanating from huge piles of peat removed from either side of the damaged pipe, much of the contaminated soil has been removed.

The pipe is exposed but still in place.

The leak was discovered last Thursday afternoon after instruments showed a drop in pressure in the volume going through the pipeline and an electronic probe pinpointed where the problem was.

About 30 staff were working day and night to repair the pipe, Refining New Zealand said.

Earlier today, Refining New Zealand spokesman Greg McNeill said investigations would continue but ''our focus now is getting that pipeline back".

Any higher level inquiries would likely be held at government level and by Northland Regional Council, he said.

RNZ CEO Sjoerd Post says no reason for embarrassment about the pipe failure. Other countries have their major airports shut down or services reduced for many reasons.