A woman was helped from a crashed car in a miracle rescue northwest of Napier today, otherwise at risk of being trapped amid storm warnings for the area.
A Fire and Emergency New Zealand rescuer said that while uninjured the woman, estimated to be aged in the 20s, would have had difficulty getting out of her vehicle as it came to rest in dense bush about 12-15 metres down a bank, with the vehicle unable to be seen from the road.
Fire service communications shift manager Mike Wanoa said the woman was still in the vehicle when she rang emergency services at 4.49pm, but she had little idea where she was apart from that she had crashed off the Napier-Taupo highway north of Te Pohue.
Three fire crews - a volunteer crew and two service crews from Napier - were involved in an hour long hunt, with the woman remaining on the phone being told to listen-out for sirens and toot the horn to attract attention of rescuers who would in-turn be listening-for her response.
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Once the connections were made fire crews found where the woman appeared to have left the road and saw the vehicle. They used chainsaws to cut-away bush to the vehicle which then had to be secured with lines attached to an appliance on the road before the woman was able to be helped out of the car.
The vehicle had been at risk of crashing further down the bank before it was "stabilised", said one rescuer.
"She would have struggled to be able to get out," he said. "But fortunately she was not hurt."
The weather was fine at the scene, although MetService radar had detected thunderstorms to the north near Willow Flat, with warnings of "severe thunderstorms" in Northern Hawke's Bay and elsewhere across the North Island.
The thunderstorms were expected to be accompanied by torrential rain and hail, with possible surface and/or flash flooding about streams, gullies and urban areas.
Hail had been expected in some areas in parts of a wide area expected to be hit between 1pm and 9pm, also including Waikato, Waitomo, Taumarunui, Bay of Plenty, Rotorua, Taupo, and Gisborne.
Temperatures had been in the high 20s for much of the day in Hawke's Bay
and a meteorologist said the most at-risk areas in Hawke's Bay were in Kaweka Ranges, including the Napier-Taupo Rd, warning drivers to be wary of the change in conditions.