Serious crash on highway between Hamilton and Tauranga

2018-12-10 03:47:10

Fed-up residents are calling for a roundabout to be installed at a popular tourist intersection after yet another crash.

Seven people were injured in the collision, one critically, at the intersection of State Highway 29 and Hopkins Rd on Monday.

The intersection is the turn-off Lord of the Rings fans must take to reach the Hobbiton​ Movie Set, 8km away.

Aaron Mudgway​, who has lived opposite the crash site for almost a year, said the intersection has been the scene for many serious crashes.

"It's so bad here, and yet they've got all this room to put in a roundabout to slow things down," he said.

"It's 100kmh through here and it's the signage that ain't good enough. You'll hear trucks on their horns two or three times a day because of close calls.

"They need to change it, or else this is going to keep happening," he said.

Mudgway​ said the crashes tended to involve tourists too busy looking at their navigation systems.

In 2016 a woman died and two others were critically injured when a logging truck and a carload of tourists collided at the same turnoff.

The car had turned directly into the path of the logging truck, police said.

Matamata-Piako District Mayor Jan Barnes said the intersection fell under the jurisdiction of the New Zealand Transport Agency, but doubted a roundabout would be installed on that particular straight piece of highway.

"But I believe this new Government is all about safety measures and we will keep the pedal to the medal on this issue, because this does involve one of New Zealand's top tourist destinations."

As a member of the Regional Land Transport Committee, Barnes said safety was the highest priority, but that people have to play their part too.

"We need to realise, particularly in the summer months, that we will have all sorts of different drivers on our roads and we need to drive to survive.

"We have growth in the Waikato, let's be realistic, but we also have one of the top tourist destinations in the country, so we need to factor that into our daily lives.

"Are we rushing a little bit?" she said. "That question has got to be asked."

Only 4km away and at around the same time as the first incident, two vehicles were involved in a second crash at the SH27 and Puketutu intersection.

"It looks like someone has failed to give way at this point, and we have one injured occupant from the van who has been transported to hospital via helicopter," Waikato Police Sergeant Andrew Osborn said.

The second crash involved a van and left one person trapped in a critical condition.

Matamata firefighters on the way to the Hobbiton​ crash came across the second collision at the SH27 and Puketutu intersection.

Nine police staff were on the scene and Osborn said traffic diversions could be in place for some time yet.

"Be mindful, it's going to be a few more hours at each end," he said. "It's hard to say for how long until we complete our investigation."

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