Lines company Powerco is using state of the art technology to check the condition of its poles, wires and crossarms in the Whanganui area.

Powerco started a pole top photography trial in March, meaning low flying helicopters carrying a photographer with high tech equipment can take 12 images of every power pole.

In conjunction with this, a trial is being conducted with a light detection and ranging (LiDAR) surveying method which uses laser technology to produce a 3D power line model of the network.

The pole top photography will be integrated into the modelling.


It is the first time Powerco has used pole top photography and LiDAR on such a large area and the work is due to be completed by the end of April.

Powerco general manager for electricity asset management Ryno Verster said the Whanganui area was chosen including Raetihi, Taihape and Marton due to their remote and rugged landscape that often suffers badly in storms.

"It is very difficult to do pole inspections by foot in this type of geography," Verster said.

"We chose rural Whanganui for the trial with the intent to have a more thorough and complete picture of the state of the network in this vast area."

Powerco asset fleet manager Paul Blackmore said the trial is an exciting initiative.

"This will improve the accuracy of our inspection data, it will help us reduce the risk of power outages and faults from defects that cannot readily be seen from the ground and are often missed," Blackmore said.

"It means we can better plan and prioritise our line renewal, maintenance and vegetation management programs which will help us ensure our network is safer and more reliable for our customers."