Kawakawa's fire chief wasn't just called out to Northland's first fatal crash of the year — he was one of the first at the scene and the first to call 111.

Wayne Martin was driving over the Three Bridges, at the entrance to Kawakawa from Moerewa, as he was heading home from work about 5.15pm on Monday when he saw a large truck and trailer heading towards him come to an abrupt stop on the middle bridge.

It appeared a man on a southbound Harley Davidson motorcycle had been overtaking traffic but when he reached the bridge with the oncoming truck he had no space to pull inside.

The man, from the Kawakawa-Moerewa area, died at the scene. His name has yet to be officially released. Traffic was diverted via Paihia and State Highway 11 for more than four hours with one lane reopening at 9.30pm.

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The closure was to allow the Serious Crash Unit to complete its investigation but also because the heavy towage truck was delayed by another serious crash involving a truck in Wheki Valley west of Whangārei. The truck and trailer had to be towed because its radiator had been punctured, among other damage.

As well as assisting police with traffic control and securing the scene, Martin said firefighters provided support to motorists who had witnessed the crash.

Meanwhile, the driver was ejected from the truck on Snooks Rd, near Wheki Valley, and was trapped by a fallen tree struck by the truck.

Constable Andrew Ivey, also a volunteer firefighter, said the man was freed and flown by rescue helicopter to Auckland Hospital in a critical condition. He remained in hospital yesterday.