Trees near power lines


Keeping your trees pruned and clear of lines helps us keep the power on for our community

Read on for information on tree regulations, advice and to find out about your responsibilities as a property owner.

We recommend using trained professionals and if you have any questions,  call us anytime on 0800 363 9898. We’re here to help.

Keeping trees clear of power lines

Trees growing too close to power lines are hazardous and a major cause of power outages in storm conditions.

As a tree owner you have a responsibility to look after your trees. The Electricity (Hazards from Trees) Regulations 2003(external link) provides guidance on owner’s responsibilities. If you have trees close to power lines you are liable if your trees damage any lines or equipment on the electricity network. The word “trees” includes all types of vegetation including shrubs, hedges and climbing vines.

Hazards from trees that are too close to power lines:

  • Fire caused by electrical sparking from vegetation coming into contact with lines.
  • Risk of electrocution for children or anyone climbing trees close to power lines.
  • Risk of electrocution from vegetation becoming electrically live in severe weather conditions.
  • Trees and vegetation causing power outages.

How close is too close?

Growth zone limits


  • These distances are from the power line, not the power pole.
  • These distances are a minimum and apply in all conditions including high wind or snow.

Fall distance tree

Trees that are taller than the powerline height or are capable of falling onto the powerlines are called a fall distance tree. These trees can cause serious issues if they fall. Trees in these situations are to be regularly assessed to check that they are in good health and do not have any structural issues.

Trimming trees safely

We recommend you hire trained professionals with the necessary expertise and safety procedures to competently carry out tree trimming.

Contact with a power line can cause:

  • Risk of electrocuting yourself or others.
  • Damage to property and other trees.
  • Damage to the electricity network.
  • Livestock death or damage.

If you or someone working for you intends to work within 4 metres of power lines, a close approach consent is required from Orion before work commences.

Planting near power lines

It's important to plant carefully near overhead power lines to avoid issues where mature trees and shrubs are in close proximity to overhead powerlines.

Planting zones


Keep clear zone -  grass is the only safe species to plant directly below power lines.

Low planting zone - check our tree planting guide below to see the recommended species for 5 metres either side of the keep clear zone.

Tree planting guide

Below is a list of indigenous native trees that will only grow to 4 metres or less, have low flammability, that are suited to the Waitaha Canterbury environment (always seek advice from your local nursery about what is best for your area) and will enhance biodiversity.

  • Aristotelia serrata (wineberry,makomako)
  • Coprosma crassifolia (mikimiki)
  • Coprosma propinqua (mingimingi)
  • Coprosma robusta (karamu)
  • Corokia cotoneaster (kokokio)
  • Fuchsia excotricata (tree fuchsia, kotukutuku)
  • Grisselinia littoralis (broadleaf)
  • Hebe salicifolia (koromiko)
  • Hoheria angustifolia (narrow leaved lacebark)
  • Melicytus ramiflorus (mahoe)
  • Myoporum laetum (ngaio)
  • Macropoper exelsum (pepper tree, kawakawa)
  • Myrsine australis (mapou, red matipo)
  • Pittosporum eugeniodes (lemonwood, tarata)
  • Plagianthus regius (lowland ribbonwood)
  • Pseudopanax arboreus (five finger, whauwhaupaku)
  • Pseudopanax crassifolius (lancewood, horoeka)
  • Solanum laciniatum (poroporo)
  • Sophora microphylla (South Island kowhai)

Fines for non-compliance

If a cut or trim notice is given to you and you fail to have the tree trimmed and/or advise us of the time and location of the trim without a reasonable excuse, this is an offence.

  • This will make you liable for a fine not exceeding $10,000
  • If the offence continues, you will be liable for a further fine of not more than $500 for every day or part day during which the offence continues

The Law — Electricity (Hazards from Trees) Regulations 2003(external link) sets out the responsibilities of electricity line companies and tree owners. The purpose of the regulations is to protect the safety of the public and help to ensure a secure supply of electricity.  

Our trees management programme

Our trees management programme is governed by the Electricity (Hazards from Trees) Regulations 2003(external link)  Our programme involves monitoring and pruning or removing trees that threaten to come into contact with overhead power lines. Through this programme we work with tree owners to minimise the risk of their trees touching power lines.

Orion is responsible for the first cut of trees near power lines and the first cut is on a property basis, not owner basis. We have met this obligation by completing a first cut of vegetation on all our lines.

In accordance with the Electricity (Hazards from Trees) Regulations 2003 there is a formal notification process.  Where vegetation affects power lines, Orion may enforce that the tree(s) is/are trimmed.

If Orion becomes aware of a tree(s) encroaching the Growth Limit Zone, we will give a Cut or Trim Notice to the tree owner advising them that as soon as possible, or within 45 days the indicated tree(s) must be cut or trimmed to maintain the distances prescribed in the regulations.

For more detailed information about roles and responsbilities please refer to the Electricity (Hazards from Trees) Regulations 2003(external link)