A wife watched in horror as her husband's truck bounced off the road, flipped and then skidded about 30m on its side as smoked poured from it.

Kelly and Henry Hokai were heading home from a weekend in Hamilton celebrating their first wedding anniversary had just picked up Mr Hokai's work truck from the Rotor Work's yard in Tokoroa when the steering appeared to fail and the truck lost control.

Kelly Hokai, who is also a truck driver, was following her 41-year-old husband when the front of the 12-tonne tipper truck smashed into a ditch, rolled and bounced back onto the road.

It skidded for about 30m with smoke pouring out of it before eventually stopping.

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"I was just scared for him. Just watching - I was thinking please don't roll and flip and roll and flip and blow up," Kelly Hokai said.

As the truck stopped, Kelly Hokai parked her car in front of the truck and sprinted towards her husband, not knowing if he was dead or alive.

"I saw it all unfolding but I just didn't know if he was going to be okay on the inside ... I didn't know what the damage was in the front, because I was behind him."

The truck on its side on SH1 south of Tokoroa. As the truck came to a halt, Kelly stopped in front of the truck and sprinted towards her husband, not knowing if he was dead or alive. Photo / John van der Ven
The truck on its side on SH1 south of Tokoroa. As the truck came to a halt, Kelly stopped in front of the truck and sprinted towards her husband, not knowing if he was dead or alive. Photo / John van der Ven

The windscreen smashed on the road and Hokai could hear her husband groaning.

Once she realised he was alive, Kelly Hokai's next fear was that the truck was going to blow up with him inside as she had thought she had seen a gas tank fly out from under the truck. The truck's engine would not turn off.

A driver of a Salvation Army truck who had been heading north at the same time as the crash also rushed to the truck and they quickly helped him out of the cab.

"So all that mattered to me was to get him up and to get him out in case the truck blew up because I couldn't get him out," Kelly Hokai recalled.

The pair carried him to the back of the car, and within minutes an off-duty ambulance officer, nurse and doctor and also pulled over to help.

A rescue helicopter transported Hokai to Tokoroa Hospital where doctors confirmed he had a lucky escape.

Henry Hokai's right side took the impact of the crash and he suffered abrasions to the back of his thighs caused from his legs rubbing on the upholstery, bruises along the right side of his body, and had a bump to the head.

His wife said he was still in a lot of pain and "had seen stars" after the crash. He was recovering at home.

Doctors did not believe the crash was caused by a medical mishap and the truck was now being inspected. Kelly Hokai said her husband believed the power steering failed as the wheel was stiff and would not veer right when he tried to take the bend.

The couple travelled to Hamilton on Friday so Henry Hokai could have an MRI at Waikato Hospital after an infection caused him to temporarily lose sight in one eye and develop brain abscesses.

But the weekend turned into a double celebration after the visit as doctors gave him the all clear so the couple visited the casino, treated themselves to dinner and stayed in a hotel for the weekend - leaving their teenagers at home.

Despite the crash happening on the day of their first wedding anniversary, the couple realise it could have been much worse.

"In hindsight I think about it and I think at least we still got to celebrate it and at least he's still here to celebrate it with," Kelly Hokai said.

Taupo road policing senior sergeant Fane Troy said it was too early to say what caused the crash, but that the environment, the driver and the vehicle would form part of the investigation. Police had recovered the truck, which would be looked at by a vehicle inspector.