Much of New Zealand's far north is without power after a transmission tower fell over

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Much of the northernmost part of New Zealand is without power after a transmission tower toppled over in a rural area on Thursday, with no indication when power will be fully restored to the area.

The 220-kV tower fell “unexpectedly” in a field, a spokesperson for the national grid operator, Transpower, said in a statement. It was not clear why the tower fell over.

The tower carried two separate high-capacity circuits that supplied most of the power to the remote Northland region, which has a population of 195,000. Officials suggested 180,000 people were without power, Radio New Zealand reported.

Power had been restored to some through the use of a lower-capacity network, but most of the region's homes and businesses — more than 70,000 — were still without electricity hours after the outage, the two power companies servicing Northland told The Associated Press.

The region's emergency management agency advised residents to conserve water and New Zealand police urged people not to travel by road unless necessary.

The outage occurred just over a year after New Zealand's ageing power grid experienced its worst-ever damage during a deadly cyclone in February 2023, which battered Northland, cutting power to the region and devastating farmland. Local politicians in the area have long sought more government funding for its crumbling infrastructure.

Charlotte Graham-mclay, The Associated Press