A horror start to the new year on local roads continues after an 87-year-old woman was killed in a two-car crash near Havelock North yesterday.

Road Policing Senior Sergeant Greg Brown said the crash occurred about 3.10pm, just 100m from the Napier Rd junction with Romanes Drive to the north of the village.

On January 2, one motorist was killed and several others left in critical or serious condition following crashes in a bloody day on the area's roads.

"Tragically there has been one fatality from this crash, an elderly female, who was in the car," Mr Brown said, later adding the 87-year-old lived locally, while the driver of the other vehicle was a man, aged 20.


He said the male, who was driving a van, suffered moderate injuries and was taken to Hawke's Bay Hospital. The man was in a stable condition last night.

"We are investigating the cause of the crash.

"There are also a couple of witnesses who were behind the vehicle at the time and saw the crash. They will be given victim support as well."

A shaken motorist travelling directly behind the victim's car told Hawke's Bay Today she noticed the van slowly swerving across the centre line of the 80km/h-limit road.

"I was right behind the car, the van just started swerving in its direction before they hit ... then the car spun and came to rest where it is," she said. "Luckily I was able to brake and avoid the crash."

A Havelock North volunteer firefighter was in his home on Napier Rd at the time of the crash and described it as a "loud bang".

"I live right outside where the crash was and I just heard this loud bang.

"When I got out here, though, she had unfortunately passed away.

"The driver of the van was still trapped in the car, though, by his legs, but he was conscious."

The Police Serious Crash Unit is investigating.

The busy road was closed for several hours.

During the holiday period, a head-on crash killed motorcyclist Norman John Lessells, 52, on the Napier-Taihape Rd.

Mr Lessells was the first road fatality for New Zealand in 2014.

The 87-year-old woman killed in yesterday's crash becomes the first official road fatality for Hawke's Bay.

Mr Lessells was killed just outside the Eastern Police operating district.

His death came on a brutal day for the region, in which several others were battling for survival following car crashes, including a Sikh family of eight, the Singhs, after their van rolled down a steep cliff on the Napier-Taupo Rd early on January 2.

There were six fatalities on Hawke's Bay roads in 2013, the first single-figure annual road toll for the region in more than half a century.

Before yesterday's death the region's last road fatality was 16-year-old Dwayne Fryer in September.