A head-on crash killing a motorcyclist on the Napier-Taihape Rd yesterday brought the Christmas-New Year holiday period road toll to seven, during a horrific day of vehicle accidents in Hawke's Bay.

Police said the rider died after being involved in a crash with a ute at 12.55pm in the Rangitikei River area, 30km east of SH1.

St John Heretaunga territory manager Brendan Hutchinson said the 52-year-old rider was hit "head on" by a car.

The Lowe Corporation Rescue Helicopter airlifted the man, who was in a critical condition, to Hawke's Bay Hospital where he later died.


The road was closed for a several hours following the crash.

The motorcyclist's death came on a shockingly brutal day for the region, in which several others are battling for survival. Throughout the day, the region's emergency services were stretched to their limits with the high number of casualties, forcing rescue helicopter crews from throughout the North Island to scramble to Hawke's Bay.

Taranaki Rescue Helicopter pilot Mike Parker said his crew responded to a 15-year-old youth who fell from a trail bike at Pourerere Beach at about 1pm, just moments after the fatal motorcycle crash along the Napier-Taihape Rd.

"We were down in Wellington when we got the call to come up to the beach near Waipukurau, because all other crews were already flying missions."

He said the teenager appeared to have fallen from his bike while riding along the beach but had only minor injuries. A hospital spokeswoman last night said the boy was in a stable condition.

The New Plymouth-based rescue crew was forced to transfer their 15-year-old patient to an ambulance after they received another mission to transport a critical heart-attack patient near Waipukurau.

"I never thought I'd be in the Bay on a mission - it was an incredibly busy day with all the accidents," Mr Parker said.

Along with Hawke's Bay's Lowe Corporation Rescue Helicopter and the Taranaki Rescue Helicopter, the Greenlea Rescue Helicopter from Taupo and Bay Trust Rescue Helicopter from Rotorua were also launched to respond to Hawke's Bay accidents yesterday.

Later on the day, a male motorcyclist "came off his bike" along the Napier-Taupo Rd.

Mr Hutchinson said the rider's injuries were mild to moderate.

The holiday road toll period, which finishes tomorrow at 6am, began 4pm on Christmas Eve.

Last year, six people died during the period on New Zealand roads.