Two people were taken to hospital with suspected serious injuries after a head-on crash north of Napier yesterday.

The crash involving two SUV utilities happened about 4.50pm, 6km north of Tutira and between the State Highway 2 Napier-Wairoa road intersections with Matahorua and Ridgemount roads.

Police said the only occupants were the drivers.

The voluntary Putorino Rural Fire Party was the first emergency service on the scene, soon joined by other fire services, the police and St John Ambulance Service, and a Lowe Corporation Rescue Helicopter which flew one of the injured to the hospital in Hastings.


The crash was one of at least five reported to police in Hawke's Bay during the region's extended Labour Day holiday weekend, which started on Anniversary Day Show Day on Friday.

Two people were reported to have been injured in a crash near Otane about 9.45am on Friday, but none were reported in three other incidents, when a vehicle hit a pole in Hastings on Friday night, another car crashed through a low-level barrier onto a Napier reserve and hit a tree about 9am on Saturday, and a vehicle overturned on State Highway 2 near Matamau, north of Dannevirke, early yesterday morning.

Witnesses to the Napier crash said it happened when a car carrying a group of teenagers became out of control while overtaking a van on Chambers St, near Napier Boys' High School.

The maroon Hyundai Sonata crossed a footpath, crashed through the wooden rail, and struck the tree on the driver's side.

Emergency services were soon on the scene but the occupants were able to get out of the wreck with no apparent serious injuries, although damage showed the car had taken a heavy impact.

The wreck remained on the reserve throughout the rest of the weekend, and yesterday formed an unplanned backdrop as the Napier City Council staged the formal opening of the iWay network of paths.

Last night, police Eastern District road policing manager Matt Broderick said excessive speed was a feature of holiday weekend motoring, which saw all available highway policing staff on duty.

Speeds of 115-120kmh were common, the prize for highest speed ticketed going to the man at the top - Mr Broderick clocked a motorist, with a child passenger, at 147kmh on the Hawke's Bay Expressway north of the Omahu Rd roundabout exiting Hastings.

Mr Broderick said the driver had not noticed he was being followed by a marked patrol car on the roundabout before accelerating.

"It's speed that determines the outcome of crashes," he said.

Staff on duty believed highway traffic volumes were possibly lighter than usual for the holiday break, possibly a consequence of the inclement weather.