Two campervans hit by winds on Napier-Taupo highway, rider blown off bike

Police and highway authorities were early this afternoon warning motorists to delay trips on State Highway 5 between Napier and Taupo after a series of incidents caused by high winds.

Two campervans or caravans had been reported to have been overturned or blown off the road, at least one in the area of notorious exposed spot Windy Gap, in the Te Haroto area.

A rider was also reported to have been blown off a motorbike and branches had fallen from trees on the highway north of the Mohaka River Bridge.

A Te Haroto resident driving home spotted the campervan down a bank at Windy Gap on Saturday morning. Emergency services were alerted shortly before 11.30am, but a fire and rescue crew from Napier was “turned back” while on the way to the incident and wasn’t needed at the scene, a spokesperson said.

The incidents happened as a storm hitting the North Island started moving into the Hawke’s Bay region. SH5 users called conditions on the road a “weather-bomb”.

A forecast by national meteorological agency MetService for Hawke’s issued about 9am was for strong northerly and gales gusting up to 90 km/h in exposed places, turning northwest and easing during the evening Rain was forecast about the ranges, with heavy falls, spreading elsewhere in the afternoon, then clearing late evening.

A “strong wind watch” notice had been issued for much of the North Island, including Hawke’s Bay, and highways manager Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency warned of the conditions on SH5, with particular notice to for special care with high-sided vehicles and motorcycles.

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