A Havelock North teenager was found dead under a tree after being flung from a Mercedes Benz yesterday morning when it crashed off Te Mata Peak Rd close to the summit.
Tom Angus Hay, 19, was found at the base of a steep gully, after his car descended 150 metres from the road which leads to and from the popular tourist spot.
Hawke's Bay Police Sergeant Ray Kirkby said it appeared the teenager, the sole occupant of the car, had been travelling downhill.
Police were unsure when the crash happened.
"We don't know anything else at this stage," he said. "The investigation is continuing."
There were no tyre marks on the bend where the car left the road and there was no indication it had been travelling at speed.
The vehicle struck a bluff, crashed over walking tracks and into the gully, ending upside down.
It was noticed by Zoe Shore of Hastings, as she walked to the summit shortly before 10am, "because of a shining bright light" as the sun reflected off the wreck.
Unsure what to make of the situation, she continued to the top and called out to fellow exercisers Kia Diamond, Dana Berquist and Marley Te Ahuru, asking them if they had noticed the vehicle.
"They assured me it was a great idea to have a look," Ms Shore said. "So I went and had a look and somebody had passed away." She was grateful the women had waited for her, because of the grisly find.
"We had a look around the trees and car and there was no one else we could see," Ms Diamond said.
The road was closed to traffic all day as emergency services attempted to recover the vehicle and the police Serious Crash Unit investigated. On the same road in December a 26-year-old Hastings man survived a 100m plunge from a lower part of the road.
In 2010 a 72-year-old Napier man died after his car rolled about 300m. The coroner recommended barriers be installed at the popular tourist spot. Also in 2010 a group of four teenagers survived a 150m plunge.
The stretch of road is under the jurisdiction of Te Mata Park Trust Board.
The board's chairman, Bruno Chambers, was unavailable for comment but after the last fatality said, relative to the amount of traffic, there were few accidents and the nature of the road made it self-regulating.
Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule said until more was understood about the crash, there would be no decision on ways to make the road safer.
"It is a dangerous piece of road and there is no ability at many parts of it to widen it," the mayor said. "The terrain is very, very narrow."