The engines canna tak it cap’n!

Well, it wasn’t engines causing the problem this morning. It was a loose cable on an electricity substation being whipped out by the wind and landing on the input feed. This wiped out four substations and two main power stations at around 8:30 this morning.

Around a quarter of the north island was rendered electricity-less. Whoops. This included my hostel, and I swear we were the last building in Auckland to get power back. In honesty, it wasn’t a major pain until the emergency lighting failed (it lasted a couple of hours – plenty of time to evacuate people if that had been required) and I couldn’t get up the stairs to my room as they were in utter darkness.

Virtually every business was shut. Convenience stores need power for the tills and scanners, so purchases with cash weren’t even possible. I spotted a couple of pubs and a Turkish kebab shop which kept going. The former’s beer was still cold and the latter sold wood-fired pizza.

Fire engines were screaming around the place all morning. I can only assume they were rescuing people stuck in lifts. A couple who’d just arrived at our hostel got stuck between floors, but were hauled to safety by an engineer who arrived promptly. Their biggest problem was not being able to check in, and a lack of hot water for showers.

One chap donned an orange waistcoat and took to directing traffic on one of the major junctions until the lights came on. He wasn’t with the police or council (who seemed to think the traffic would sort itself), but just a concerned guy who was worried someone would get hurt. Top marks!

Coincidentally, the south island also suffered power cuts. Their’s were due to massive amounts of snow forcing power lines to the ground. The weather down there looks a nightmare. Should be fun in the camper van later this week.

As part of my morning wander, I made my way to the top of Queen Street and popped into Surplustronics where I bought a used 1m patch lead. Once the power came back on in the hostel, I experimented. The hostel lists internet access as being on the first floor, but it was moved some time ago to the ground. However, there are four network points still located in the common room and I was curious… Lo and behold, within 30 seconds of plugging my laptop into the wall socket I was online. All for a dollar. I should have thought of this 5 days ago. It would have saved me a small fortune in cybercafe bills. Especially as, when Lou returns tomorrow morning, I’m moving back to the BK hostel.

Meals today were just a way of getting rid of what I had in the cupboard, and dinner was nachos. There is such a thing as a free meal, they’re just not very big is all.

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