The week New Zealand fell to pieces

Over the last week, it has felt like everything in New Zealand is breaking.

The country's estimated $NZ200 billion ($A184 billion) infrastructure deficit has been laid bare with all sorts of failures: planes, ferries, fuel supply and power lines.

The bad news began last week when New Zealand Defence Force Boeing 757s were unable to get Prime Minister Chris Luxon to Tokyo for a trade mission, stranding his 50-strong delegation on a Port Moresby refuelling stopover.

It continued back home on Friday night when an Interislander ferry - part of the three-strong state-owned fleet which takes Kiwis and cargo between North and South Islands - ran aground.

More than 100,000 properties north of Auckland were without power on Thursday after a high-voltage pylon fell in high winds.

The entire Coromandel Peninsula, some 27,000 properties, also lost power on Sunday in a separate bungle.

Further offshore, around 800km east of South Island, the Chatham Islands have run out of petrol and cooking gas, with diesel supplies critically low and bad weather hampering efforts to restock the remote communities.

To top it off, Auckland airport suffered dozens of cancellations on Monday and Tuesday due to early morning fog.

New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Luxon
Prime Minister Chris Luxon has lamented New Zealand's infrastructure problems during the past week. (Ben McKay/AAP PHOTOS)

"We look like a basket case of a country," top-rating broadcaster Mike Hosking surmised.

Mr Luxon put it more diplomatically.

"This is a great country but we need to do infrastructure differently," he said.

Barring the fog - a semi-regular irritant for airline passengers in the land of the long white cloud - and the high seas, the problems all require difficult fixes with one commonality: huge expense.

A major defence capability review will recommend the replacement of the NZDF planes, giving the government political cover for the investment.

Previous governments have deferred that spending - estimated in the hundreds of millions - for fear Kiwis would see it as a lavish prime ministerial perk.

The planes, with a history of embarrassing and disruptive breakdowns, have a lifespan through to 2028 meaning the government will be able to argue replacement is a necessity.

The Cook Strait ferries are a stickier challenge.

The Labour-led government planned to replace the fleet with two rail-equipped mega-ferries costing $NZ750 million but encountered a cost blowout on the land infrastructure supporting the ships.

The current National-led government cancelled that contract and is without a plan to replace them, but is pledging to do so for less than the $NZ3.2 billion cost of the revised plan.

Citing commercial negotiations, Mr Luxon declined to reveal, as has been reported, if his government faces a break fee in the hundreds of millions for aborting the ferry-building contract with South Korean shipbuilders.

The issue is a top-line topic in parliament, where Finance Minister Nicola Willis advised the government was planning to spend $NZ68 billion on infrastructure over the next five years.

"Actual people in hard hats in actual diggers and spades fixing potholes, fixing roads, getting things built," she said, an obvious dig at Labour's failure to deliver infrastructure projects.

The new government is also pledging a fast-track consenting process for major new projects, a new planning regime, and a war on red tape.

As for the electricity transmission failure in Northland, a review revealed an embarrassing cause.

"We removed too many nuts from the bolts (at the base of the pylon) that resulted in the tower falling over," Mornez Green, managing director at engineering company Omexom, said.

Or as Mr Hosking put it, "idiots were in charge of spanners".

"A shocking week for a country that is having a tough time of it anyway," he said in his daily Newstalk ZB editorial.

"All of it was avoidable. All of it is more expensive now because of actions not taken at other times."