A 24-year-old man was critically injured after falling off the back of a ute in the Tasman District early today.
The incident happened on State Highway 6 near Brightwater, 21km south west of Nelson, just before 3am, police said.
Tasman District police spokeswoman Barbara Dunn said the man suffered severe head injuries when he fell from the vehicle in the 100km/h zone.
He may have been "goofing around'' before the fall, Ms Dunn said.
The man had been flown to Wellington Hospital.