Milk was spilled on State Highway 1 just south of Umawera on Sunday morning after a Mangonui Haulage milk tanker driver took evasive action to avoid an oncoming car, but the company was grateful that the outcome wasn't a great deal worse.

Mangonui Haulage proprietor Sean Sparksman said the driver was heading south when he was confronted with a car straddling the white line as he negotiated a right-hand bend.

He swerved as far to the left as he could to avoid a collision, but lost control of the fully-laden truck and trailer.

The tractor unit came to a halt hard up against a bank on the other side of the road, with the trailer, which was upended, alongside it.

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"He managed to avoid the car but it all went pear-shaped after that," Mr Sparksman said. The driver escaped without injury, but the trailer would probably be a write-off.

It was "all sorted" by around 5.30pm, he added, with help from Don Mackenzie, who delivered a crane to the scene from Kaitaia to lift the trailer back on to its wheels.