Wellingtonians queue for hours for emergency storage tanks as water shortages loom

As Wellington's water crisis deepens, demand for large storage tanks is so high that suppliers can't keep up with demand.

The capital remains at level 1 restrictions, but with soaring temperatures, little rain and thousands of leaks, much tougher water restrictions are on the cards. 

It was a day spent waiting as dozens joined a queue that snaked around Wellington's tip shop carpark.

They were after more than just a glass of water though - here to buy a whole tank instead.

Manager Shelali Shetty said demand for the 200-litre water tanks has been through the roof.

"So I think today it will be a matter of an hour and all 60 will be gone, but not to worry we have tanks coming every other week," Shetty told Newshub.

And those who did manage to get one were pretty chuffed.

"I've been here since around 10 o'clock when they said they'll get here sometime this morning. Took a little longer, but yeah pretty happy to get one," one person told Newshub.

A lot of Wellingtonians are preparing for the worst because they've been warned to expect it.

Last week, South Wairarapa moved to level 2 restrictions, meaning sprinklers and irrigation systems are banned.

The capital remains at level 1, so sprinklers are only allowed every second day. But with around 45 per cent of the region's water lost to leaks, Wellington Water says further restrictions are almost guaranteed.

The water loss is higher than in the past and the chance of a higher level of restrictions is greater this year.

In Wellington's Island Bay locals have used a bit of Kiwi ingenuity to turn a leak into something more useful. Saving the water for outdoor use, it's filling about a 10-litre bucket every minute - and it's just one of about 3000 leaks in the city.

"We shouldn't kid ourselves, that's a significant amount of leaks and it's reflective in our high level of leakage," said Wellington Water regulatory services director Charles Barker.

So, as Wellington Water scrambles to fix that, residents are preparing to for a backup supply.

"I'm concerned we're running out of water," one person told Newshub.

"Just not on, they've got to fix it," another added.

Especially because almost half of the city's water is simply going down the drain.