Commuters driving between Napier and Taupo faced commuter misery as a dangerous goods truck burnt to a crisp on State Highway 5.
Fire crews from six stations were on the scene for more than three hours after a heavy good truck transporting "non-hazardous dangerous goods" became engulfed in flames, 10km north of Te Pohue, shortly after 2.30am.
A police spokesman said police were called to a truck and trailer unit fire on the Napier-Taupo Road at 2.40am this morning.
The vehicle was transporting non-hazardous dangerous goods.
"We understand there was a range of items including food, plants, timber and steel on-board."
While no one was seriously injured in the fire, SH5 was closed while emergency services worked to clear the scene.
The driver, a man in his 50s, was treated for smoke inhalation at Hawke's Bay Hospital, before he "self-discharged" himself shortly after.
A spokesman for NZ Fire and Rescue said it took firefighters and appliances from six stations three hours to put the fire out.
"We dispatched three appliances and three tankers from Bay View, Hastings and Napier and support vehicles from Napier, Taupo and Te Pohue. By the time our crews got there the fire was well-involved.
"It took just over three hours to fully extinguish the blaze. The truck suffered substantial damage and is being removed by crane."
NZTA said the road re-opened under a stop/go management system at about 8.50am - more than six hours after it was closed.
The road did not fully re-open for all lanes until 1pm.
The road closure also caused delays to morning newspaper deliveries, including Hawke's Bay Today - now printed in Auckland.
"We want to apologise to readers - it has been a bumpy few weeks as we settle into a new delivery and printing system," Hawke's Bay Today editor Craig Cooper said.
"Today was beyond our control and our first thoughts are with the people affected directly by the accident - it sounds like the driver was very, very lucky.
"We appreciate our readers letting us know if the paper is late, and thank them for their patience as we work through this.''