As a nurse Emma Smith has seen trauma, but she was shocked to see it on the road only minutes from her house.

At 6am yesterday a motorcyclist was crushed by a falling tree on Ohakuri Rd, south of Rotorua.

"I was on my way to work, it was still dark and the sun was only just coming up when I came across a huge tree covering the road," Smith said.

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"My first thought was frustration, that I would have to take a massive detour, but by pure chance, I saw the handle bars among the branches."

Climbing on top of the tree Smith could see the motorbike lying among the debris.

"I could only just make out the shape of somebody, lying there, and I thought he was deceased."

She yelled out to the man, and when he responded she was in "a complete state of shock".

The rain was still pouring as she climbed through the tree to get to him.

"I'm familiar with the injuries at motorcycle accidents, but I had never seen anything like this, where a tree has actually fallen on someone, so I was nervous about what I might see.

"He had all of his safety gear on, including a helmet, and I think if he didn't, if he wasn't doing everything right, this would be a totally different story."

Smith said she had to pull parts of the tree off him.


"It took about five goes to get through to 111. We kept getting cut off because it was just so stormy.

"I was holding my jacket over his head to stop the rain getting in his face, and then an amazing truck driver arrived and loaned me his."

She said the motorcyclist was aged between 50 and 70 and had "done everything right".

"He's your classic stoic farmer, out before dawn, working hard to check on his stock.

"Often in the country there are people who just shoot from farm to farm without safety gear on. In my opinion, that's what saved him. I actually thought he was gone."

Smith said as they waited for the ambulance to arrive she kept telling him how happy she was that he was alive.


Ambulance, police and the fire service attended the incident.

Smith said a few of them were volunteers.

"I take my hat off to them, it was before dawn, pouring down with rain in the middle of a storm and they all got up to be there.

"For people taking risks on the road, think of the volunteers when you are making those decisions, think about them having to go home from another tragedy, because that stuff stays with you.

"It was really nice to see that this guy was doing all the right things."

A police spokeswoman said the motorcyclist suffered moderate injuries and was taken by ambulance to Rotorua Hospital.


The road was cleared shortly before 8am.

Within 20 minutes of that incident a vehicle hit a fallen tree on State Highway 33 in Okere Falls. The road was not blocked and no one was injured.

There was also a one car crash on State Highway 1 near Tree Trunk Gorge Rd and Kaimanawa Rd at 10.12am. One of the two people in the vehicle was taken to hospital with moderate injuries.