Trees had to be cleared and extra care taken with overhead power lines as a crane was used to recover a truck and trailer unit that plunged off a Northland highway killing the driver.

The driver died after the empty trucking unit, used for moving farming supplies, crashed through a roadside barrier and ended up about 9 metres down a steep bank, 2km south of Kaiwaka about 6am yesterday.

State Highway 1 was down to one lane for most of the day as emergency services, an arborist and North Power worked to get the driver from the cab and the truck back on the road.

Senior Sergeant John Fagan said initial investigations revealed the northbound truck and trailer unit appeared to have struck the right rear tyre area of a light truck also travelling north.

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The light truck was a safety truck following a road crew picking up road cones in the northbound passing lane.

Senior Constable Warren Bunn, of the serious crash unit, surveys the scene. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Senior Constable Warren Bunn, of the serious crash unit, surveys the scene. Photo / Michael Cunningham

Fagan said the truck driver appeared to have lost control with the truck veering to the left and crashing through a roadside barrier and down the bank. Black tyre marks on the road marked the path of the truck and trailer unit.

The crash was near the intersection of the highway and Settlement Rd towards the end of northbound passing lanes.

The driver and only occupant in the vehicle died at the scene. No one else was injured but Worksafe was notified.

A member of the police serious crash unit surveyed the scene and gathered evidence which will form part of a report and help police discover what caused the crash.

A local firm was called into to use a gas torch to separate the trailer and truck. The road was momentarily closed while the crane was put in place and the trailer unit was lifted out first.

A police iwi liaison officer and a kaumatua blessed the scene after the man was removed from the truck.

The fatality brings Northland's road toll to 11 for the year to date. Eight of the deaths have happened on state highways while three have occurred on local roads.

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This light truck was struck by a truck and trailer unit which veered off the road and crashed down a bank killing the driver. Photo / Michael Cunningham
This light truck was struck by a truck and trailer unit which veered off the road and crashed down a bank killing the driver. Photo / Michael Cunningham

Meanwhile, a male driver involved in a Far North crash on Monday remained in Auckland City Hospital after having emergency brain surgery.

The two-car crash happened near Fairburn Rd, Pamapuria, about 5.10pm.