Police are continuing to investigate a vehicle crash on a Bay of Plenty beach that killed a Northland man.

Following an initial survey of the scene, police said alcohol was a factor in the crash on Papamoa Beach last Thursday night that killed a 24-year-old from Kerikeri.

A four-wheel-drive vehicle the man was driving at the popular Bay of Plenty holiday spot rolled just before 8pm, about 500m north of the beach access at Harrisons Cut.

The driver, from Kerikeri, had to be cut from the wreckage by firefighters.


Four other occupants of the vehicle were uninjured and were helping police with their inquiries.

"Driver behaviour, alcohol and failure to wear a seatbelt are believed to be factors in this crash," said Western Bay of Plenty area commander Inspector Clifford Paxton.

Papamoa police Sergeant Phil Gillbanks said the driver, who had been living in New Zealand for about six years, was well outside the legal area permitted for cars to retrieve or launch boats, and was driving faster than the beach's 30km/h speed limit.

"It is a recipe for disaster in more ways than one."

He said police had even received reports of vehicles weaving in and out of beachgoers, particularly at Papamoa East.

Mr Gillbanks said Thursday's crash was an unfortunate accident that could have been avoided easily. He put it down to speed and driver behaviour. It occurred on an outgoing tide when there was not a lot of shore space and vehicles were travelling close to people on soft sand.

The four passengers in Thursday's incident were overseas tourists.

Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby said the problem was mainly with visitors to Tauranga and it was rare for a local person to drive illegally on the beach.