A truck driver was lucky to escape serious injury when his truck and trailer flipped west of Hanmer Springs, trapping him in his cab.

Timber packs heading for the Christchurch rebuild were scattered along State Highway 7, closing the Lewis pass route to the West Coast for five hours on Wednesday.

Constable Nick Wenborn, of the Hanmer Springs police, said the 61-year-old driver from Mt Maunganui was "a very, very lucky man" to survive with moderate head, chest and arm injuries.

He had to be cut free from the cab by volunteer firefighters and was treated by St John paramedics from Hanmer before being flown to Christchurch Hospital by the Westpac Rescue Helicopter.


Constable Wenborn said the truck heading from Nelson failed to take a 45km/h bend at Handiside Stream about 10km west of the Hanmer turnoff and rolled, spilling timber along the highway.

"The timber ended up like a giant pile of pick-up sticks," he said.

The police commercial vehicle unit is investigating.

Constable Wenborn said it was too early to say if the driver would face charges.

K&S Freighters Ltd general manager Greg Cochrane said the driver was out of hospital and recovering with friends in Christchurch before heading home to Mt Maunganui at the weekend.

He said the Freightliner unit was "not too badly damaged" and the company was investigating the cause of the crash.

- The Star