Traffic was brought to a halt on State Highway 1 south of Taihape yesterday morning when a car transporter crashed, leaving vehicles strewn across the road.
The driver of the Auto Movements transporter truck, 41-year-old Mark Elley, said he was on his way from Wellington to Auckland with a load of newly imported cars when the trailer unit caught the grass edge on the left side of the road about 8.45am.
Mr Elley said it was the first time he had driven the truck.
The trailer was dragged into a ditch and rolled onto its side, skidding along the road for up to 32m before coming to a stop across both lanes of the highway.
A motorist coming towards him could see what was going on and managed to avoid a collision, he said.
The driver of that vehicle probably got more of a fright than he did, Mr Elley said.
Several local residents and motorists travelling behind him stopped to check if Mr Elley was all right. He was uninjured.
While he was a bit shocked, he was more worried about whether he had hit anyone else, he said.
The crash stopped traffic in both directions for more than an hour, as there was no alternative route.
Three or four cars were thrown from the top level of the unit.
Although the rest remained on the trailer, they were all damaged.
Mr Elley said the cars and the trailer were write-offs but the truck might be salvageable.
Taihape police Sergeant Mark Toms said the crash took five hours to clear. The road was opened to one lane about an hour after the crash, but was not opened fully until about 2.20pm.
A heavy haulage truck from Wanganui was called in to remove the cars and the trailer from the road.