A temporary hilltop fibre optic cable for communications with the quake-damaged Kaikoura district will be completed by Christmas, thanks to an innovative aerial installation technique.
The old fibre link that runs below the coastal railway was breached in at least nine places by last month's earthquake and quick fix patching kept being damaged by ongoing slips.
So, with a "number eight wire" attitude, the team thought "if you can't go around it let's go over it".
"Working with the helicopter crew here, we were able to determine that going up over the back of the hill was something that we could do," said Scotty Earl, Downer contractor.
"So we tried that yesterday and it was very successful. So putting the cable over the back of the slips, just hanging them over the trees, increases our chance of reduced risk to the temporary solution."
And it turns out this innovative aerial installation technique is a telecommunications first.
"We've been thinking about this and been thinking it's well-tested through with power, through the aerials, and so I thought why can't we do it with our fibre," said Jude Viliua, Downer's operations manager.
By the time the crew has finished, there'll be another 84km of fresh cable laid.
And high on the treetops, the cable should last at least a year until the main underground line is fully fixed.