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Motorcycle crashes on hill

The High Risk Route warning sign for motorcyclists at the Wairarapa entrance to the Remutaka Hill road. PHOTO/FILE

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A motorcycle crashed into the side of a truck on the Remutaka hill road [State Highway 2], 2km north of Featherston, early Thursday morning at about 5.45am. The crash left the rider with injuries, including a serious leg injury, prompting an airlift to Wellington Hospital.

At about 5.50am, sirens were raised around the Featherston area, mobilising the rural fire brigade, who responded to the crash along with police, the Wellington Free Ambulance, and eventually Life Flight.

Up until about 7am the road was blocked as emergency services attended and prepared for the arrival of the Life Flight helicopter.

Traffic management was then put in place as contractors worked to clear the scene.

The Remutaka hill road was known as a ‘high risk route’ for motorcyclists, with signage going up a few years ago to warn riders of the dangers posed by high winds, tight cornering and slips.

MetService reported that, at the time of the crash, the temperature was about 2.5 degrees Celsius: low enough for there to be some ice, but also to affect the performance of the motorcycle and rider.

Allan Kirk, chief executive officer of Motorcycle Safety Consultants, said that motorcycle incidents on the Remutaka hill road could be down to many factors, but added that the rider was “extremely brave” to attempt the route at 5am, when the temperature was down into the low single digits.

While Kirk admitted he did not know the circumstances of Thursday’s crash, he detailed several factors that cold weather could have on a ride.

“Visors get steamed up and riders get very cold, and their decision-making can go to hell.

“There’s a whole pile of factors that could be involved in these things that can’t really be blamed on anyone sometimes.

“Many riders do not realise the extent to which cold can affect the operation of their motorcycle, mentally and physically.

“Cold weather can be a real problem, and the rider was extremely brave to ride over the hill at that time.”

Another problem reported by many motorcyclists using the road was oncoming vehicles encroaching on their lane – it was not yet known if this happened on Thursday.

Kirk said that competent riders would “line up” a corner in such a way that it would be virtually impossible for a collision if the oncoming car was straying – unless the opposing driver was taking up half the lane or more.

Bruce Pauling, manager of Wairarapa Road Safety Council, said that it was important for vehicle drivers using the Remutaka hill to be aware of motorcycles, and “check twice” before they turn, overtake or lane merge.

“Motorcycles have a narrow profile, can appear very quickly and be hidden in a drivers’ blind spot.

“If riders and drivers respect and look out for each other and the conditions, then that goes a long way to reducing these nasty crashes, fatalities and injuries.”

A further crash was reported on Thursday morning, on Kahutara Rd to the east of Lake Wairarapa. This involved a single vehicle, with no injuries reported.


  1. The hill is south of Featherston not north and the Featherston brigade is not a rural brigade. Please check before printing.

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