We're converting all street lights in the city to energy-efficient LED lighting

Installers changing street lights

Now that the conversion of the NZTA subsidised street lighting to modern LED lights controlled by the central management system (CMS) is drawing to a close the focus is moving to all the other council owned lighting that is powered through the street lighting network that was not included in this first stage. The three main areas for this next round of upgrades are:

  • Parks lighting connected to the street lighting network.
  • Facilities and social housing lighting connected to the street lighting network.
  • Connecting older LED street lights to the central management system (CMS).

You can see the lights in each of these areas below(external link). The switch to LED street lighting is already saving ratepayers in Christchurch $1.5 million a year in electricity and maintenance costs. Find out more on Newsline(external link).

It is the intention to have all these lights upgraded by June 2024. This includes approximately 14,000 lights, of which 9,000 are new lights to be installed, and 4,500 are to have CMS light controllers fitted to existing LED’s. The project aims to complete 70% of all installs prior to 30 June 2023.

The scope for each area is being finalised and the design process is underway. The installation of light controllers into older LED’s has commenced and the first lights to be upgraded to LED for this next stage of upgrades are anticipated to start in May 2022.

  • The lights that have previously been used to light our streets were inefficient compared to the modern LED lighting now being installed.
  • When all street lights in the city have been upgraded to LED the Council will save more than $1.5 million each year.
  • The completed upgrade will see Christchurch reduce carbon emissions by approximately 1500 tonnes per year.
  • The neutral white light gives increased colour rendering providing greater clarity for a safer transport environment.
  • LEDs provide a very directional source of light reducing wasted light spilling into adjacent properties and into the night sky.
  • A centrally controlled system allows for lights to be dimmed when demand is low creating additional opportunities for increasing efficiencies.
  • Faults will be picked up immediately by the centrally controlled system.
  • A greater lifespan of the lights reduces maintenance costs and reduces disposal waste, positively impacting on the environment. Disposed LED lights also contain no hazardous elements to manage, unlike the lights they are replacing.

With the old lights a lot of light was wasted to the surrounds, such as adjacent properties, trees, and into the night sky. 

To meet the requirements of the road lighting standards the old lights had much higher light output to compensate for the wasted light. 

The new LED street lights direct all the light in the downward direction and reduce light spill into adjacent properties. 

Some may perceive that the street appears darker than before, however this is due to the reduced light spill into trees and adjacent properties.

The new lighting illuminates the road and paths to the same or better standard while considerably reducing the amount of artificial light going into the environment.

  • It is unlikely there will be any direct impacts on you while these lights are upgraded. The lighting network will remain in operation during the work.
  • There will be no road works required or loss of power to homes.
  • At this time we have no plans to upgrade lights on private driveways.
  • In some instances, lights will need to be set to their design wattage through the smart control network after being installed. This will mean lights may run brighter for a few days. This has been done to minimise the different lights needed, allowing for cost savings through bulk purchasing.
  • The replacements require minimal traffic management, which reduces impacts on roads and traffic.

LED lights requiring CMS light controllers to be installed to be connected to the CMS

LED lights to be connected to the CMS that do not have the CMS light controller sockets

Facilities and parks lights

  • Yellow: Parks
  • Blue: Facilities


Excessive amounts of light pollution have been shown to impact upon the natural patterns of wildlife. The upgrade to modern LEDs will see a reduction in the levels of light produced by street lighting. LED lighting is more directional than existing lighting in Christchurch creating less spill and upward waste light. The Council has opted to reduce upward spill light to less than the 1% currently accepted by the NZTA. In the majority of cases zero is being achieved.

The Council is currently supporting a study by NIWA Taihoro Nukurangi in the Christchurch area to get real data on the effects of various LED lighting on insect population. We will be using the results from the study to better inform the lighting used in known environmentally sensitive areas.

We will further reduce the quantity of light being placed in the environment by dimming lights at times of low demand.

The Council has followed industry recognised safety standards to provide safe roads and pedestrian environments. NZ Transport Agency state “The LED lights we most often use are 4000K (a neutral white light) as current research into light and road safety indicates this is the best and safest colour temperature for object recognition for drivers and pedestrians”.

4000K lighting is more efficient than 3000k and so it maximises the reduction in power consumption, reducing the overall carbon usage by 1500 tonnes per year once all lighting has been upgraded.

Does the lighting operate on 5g?
No. The network operates on the public radio frequency between 915-928 MHz.

Are the lights being used as part of the 5g network?
No. The luminaires that have been and are currently being installed are not designed for use with the 5G network.

Do the lights have cameras on them?
No. The coffee cup-sized attachments on top of the lights are light controllers and enable the lights to be connected to the network. See the manufacturer's specifications for more information(external link).

What lights are being used?
A variety of lights are being used to best fit the specific design parameters for the location. Our streetlighting materials page provides details about the NZTA M30 list of approved luminaires.