A series of crashes around the Far North left one man in a critical condition and cut power to several hundred households.

The most serious incident involved a four-wheel-drive vehicle that crashed into a culvert beside Awaroa Rd, near Broadwood in North Hokianga, just before 1am on Sunday.

The driver and sole occupant was transferred to Auckland Hospital yesterday where he was last night still in a critical conditon.

The crash tested volunteer fire crews from Kaitaia, Ahipara and Kohukohu, who found the vehicle on its side in a deep ditch about 100m west of the junction with Pukemiro Rd.


The driver was trapped by his legs and unconscious with members of the public trying to help him.

Kaitaia senior station officer Ross Beddows said it took about 30 minutes to get the driver out.

"It wasn't easy. The vehicle was on its side, in a drain with steep sides, full of debris and slippery, wedged against a farm fence."

Firefighters used cutting gear, chains and hydraulic rams to remove part of the vehicle's roof and a door, before pushing the dashboard off the patient.

Paramedics then worked on the driver in the ambulance before he was transferred to the Northland Rescue Helicopter, which landed in the showgrounds at Broadwood and flew him to Whangarei Hospital.

Later that day, about 7.15pm, a Chinese tourist driving south on State Highway 10 drove straight over the traffic islands at Pakaraka Junction and into a car waiting to turn right from SH1.

The tourist's car then careered into a power pole, snapping it at the base. Sergeant Ross Laurie said the driver claimed he didn't see the intersection.

At least two people were taken to Bay of Islands Hospital with minor injuries.

Fire crews from Kawakawa, Kerikeri and Kaikohe were called to the crash. Kawakawa deputy fire chief Alistair Leitch said firefighters' main job was to keep people away from the power lines. The pole was still standing but leaning on the car at a 45-degree angle with the wires dangling over the road.

The previous night, about 2.45am on Saturday, a car travelling west on Puketona Rd, near Haruru Falls, struck a power pole.

Mr Laurie said the driver was taken to Bay of Islands Hospital with concussion and a head cut. A blood sample was taken to test for alcohol but the result was not known at edition time yesterday.

A female passenger was also taken to hospital as a precaution while another passenger, a male, was thought to have left the scene before emergency services arrived.

Police are continuing to investigate all three crashes. The Puketona Rd and Pakaraka crashes cut power to 300 households for up to seven hours, and 175 households for about five hours, respectively.