As Chloe Scampton was driving south of Whangarei in heavy rain yesterday she thought she had had a crash when her BMW made a loud bang.
But the car had hit one of several potholes that emerged on State Highway 1 on the north side of the Brynderwyns that took out tyres on at least four other vehicles.
Ms Scampton, from Maungaturoto, was driving with boyfriend Jaden Lawrence about 10.30am yesterday in heavy rain. As they came down the hill towards Whangarei a truck on the other side of the road sprayed a huge wave of water over their car. At the same time her car hit a pothole that she did not see because of the spray.
"It felt like we crashed. We stopped straight away and pulled over and realised we'd hit a huge pothole.
"Then a tow truck driver came over and told us it had happened to some other cars as well and they were being towed away further down the hill," she said.
"We went further down the hill and thought it was just a flat tyre [on the right front] so I got the spare out to change it, but Jaden noticed that the shocks [on the rear right] were broken because they were making a big rattling sound."
Left without a working vehicle, Ms Scampton had to have her car towed and late yesterday was heading to Whangarei to borrow a car from her stepfather.
She wants compensation to cover costs the damages had caused - towing costs, repairs to the shocks and new tyre and rim.
"It wasn't our fault that this happened, it was because of the huge pothole. I want somebody to pay for the damage it caused, it's not fair if I have to pay" she said.
The potholes were on the north side of the hill, which has recently undergone an $18 million upgrade.
NZ Transport Agency, which controls state highways, said several potholes appeared on SH1 between the Brynderwyns and Whangarei yesterday morning, after heavy rain overnight.
Journey Manager Jacqui Hori-Hoult said: ''The rain continued most of the day, and this made things challenging for our maintenance crews . . . We received a number of calls in relation to potholes in specific locations, and we sent crews to respond immediately.''
Four crews with traffic management support worked in the area. Crews will also be working today to get on top of issues which the heavy rain has caused before the weekend.
''We're hoping the rain will clear to allow us to complete more effective repairs. The inside passing lane as drivers approach the summit is programmed for a permanent repair early in the spring construction season [October].
''We understand the frustration that these incidents cause for motorists, and we patrol the network daily to monitor for the appearance of potholes. We urge people to get in touch with us as soon as possible if they spot potholes or other problems during heavy rain.''
Drivers can call 0800 4 HIGHWAYS (0800 44 44 49).
It's not the first time potholes south of Whangarei have caused problems recently. In June at least 30 vehicles had tyres burst after a pothole on a bridge north of Kaiwaka.