A male motorcyclist has died after hitting a fence this afternoon south of Matamata, taking the holiday road toll to five.

The toll has now surpassed the toll at this time last year, when four people died in crashes.

Police were called to the scene of this afternoon's incident, on State Highway 28 on Rapurapu Rd in Te Poi, about 1.40pm.

The 65-year-old Tauranga man was part of a group of motorcyclists, a police spokesman said, and he died after riding off the road and hitting a fence.


The Serious Crash Unit are investigating the cause of the incident.

Three St John Ambulance vehicles attended the incident at 1.35pm and treated the man.

Fire Service spokesman Jaron Phillips said four fire trucks attended from nearby Tirau and Matamata.

"When we arrived there were members of the public directing traffic, CPR was being carried out. We set up a helicopter landing site for ambulance."

Mr Phillips said the helicopter arrived about 2.10pm, but the man died at the scene.

The holiday road toll period officially started at 4pm on Christmas Eve and finishes at 6am on January 5.

Four people had died at this time last year, but there were 14 fatal crashes by the end of the 2014 holiday road toll period.

A police spokeswoman said earlier today that there have been a total of 444 crashes in New Zealand reported between 4pm on December 24 and 7pm last night. Of that, four people died.


This afternoon's fatal motorcycle incident increases the road toll to five.

A crash scene on Cavendish Drive in Papatoetoe on December 27. Photo / Michael Craig
A crash scene on Cavendish Drive in Papatoetoe on December 27. Photo / Michael Craig

The police spokeswoman said the 444 crashes includes all minor crashes reported throughout New Zealand, including nose to tails, minor prangs and also the serious and fatal crashes.

"So this explains why it's such a high tally at 444," she said.

In the first fatality of the holiday period, a French tourist died in a three-car crash in Northland on Christmas Day.

His female passenger and one of the other drivers suffered serious injuries, and two children were treated for minor injuries.

Initial police investigations showed the French man's rental car crossed the centre line and collided with the other vehicles.

Then on Boxing Day two women from the same family died in a head-on crash after leaving a whanau get-together.

The crash happened just south of Tokoroa on State Highway 1.

The women were travelling south when their SUV and a Nissan heading north collided.

The fourth death was a 57-year-old cyclist who died from his injuries following a road accident in Ranui, West Auckland, on Christmas Day.

The man was taken to Auckland Hospital after falling from his bicycle on Swanson Rd about 2.30pm. He died yesterday.

He was not wearing a helmet when he fell.

Meanwhile, emergency services are still being kept busy on roads around the country as holidaymakers continue to leave the main centres.

Traffic has been crawling on the Auckland Motorway this afternoon.

In the northbound lanes, near the East Tamaki turnoff, an ambulance and two fire trucks attended a crash between two cars - a black station wagon and a grey sedan - but traffic was still flowing as they were parked off the motorway.

In another crash, closer to the city near the Ellerslie Panmure Highway in the northbound lane, a black Ford Fiesta and a large truck collided.

The driver's side of the car was extensively damaged with the door unable to close, and the windscreen smashed.

The truck it collided with was damaged at the front and parked to the left of the motorway.

Police also attended a traffic incident on the Northern Motorway at Rosedale.

At the turnoff to State Highway 2, heading in the direction of Tauranga and the Coromandel, traffic was backed up for several kilometres.

In the South Island, a single vehicle crash on State Highway 94 between Riversdale and Balfour this afternoon left a woman with serious leg injuries.

Police and emergency services attended the Southland crash about 12.30pm.

Police spokesman, Senior Sergeant James Ure, said the female failed to negotiate a sweeping right hand bend and left the road, with the car overturning several times before coming to a stop.

The Fire Service was required to free the trapped driver and she was taken to Southland Hospital.

She was the only person in the car.