Wellington Scoop

Complex job – retrieving truck that crashed off Remutaka Hill Road

News from Waka Kotahi NZTA
The NZ Transport Agency will this week begin the first stage of one of the most complex retrieval operations ever undertaken on the Wellington state highway network.

Following a fatal crash where a large truck left State Highway 2 on the Remutaka Hill and rolled down the bank, Waka Kotahi has been working with suppliers and contractors to develop a plan to retrieve the truck and container.

“Firstly, Waka Kotahi would like to express our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of the man killed in the crash last weekend. Our thoughts are with them, and everyone else affected by this tragedy,” Regional Maintenance and Operations Manager Mark Owen says.

“Retrieving the truck and container from below the Remutaka Hill will be a challenging exercise and perhaps the most complex retrieval operation we’ve ever undertaken on the Wellington state highway network.

“This is due to how far down the bank the truck and container ended up, the immense weight of the truck and container, and the narrow and steep environment of the Remutaka Hill road.

“The extremely complex nature of this operation means we need to do it in two stages. The first stage will involve removing the truck from the bank and is scheduled to begin next Wednesday night, depending on weather.”

State Highway 2 over the Remutaka Hill will be closed overnight on Wednesday from 9pm to 4am Thursday morning to start the recovery process.

“The full closure of the road is necessary to allow multiple tow trucks and a small crane to access the site, and to ensure our crews are able to carry out the operation safely,” Mr Owen says.

Motorists are advised to plan ahead. This is an emergency closure and there will be no ability for any vehicles to cross through before midnight on Wednesday. For people who need to get across the Remutaka Hill after midnight, please contact customer@capitaljourneys.co.nz.

The work is dependent on weather and may be postponed at short notice.

Plans for stage two of the retrieval operation are still being finalised.


  1. Dave B, 25. October 2021, 5:14

    Who do people think should pay for this recovery?
    – The transport company involved (who, if they remain in business, can pass it on to their customers)?
    – The Road Transport Forum (who continually advocate for the trucking mode, in spite of its poor track-record)?
    – Waka Kotahi (if this can be blamed on the ‘dangerous road’ they have created)?
    – The Ministry of Transport (who allow the road transport system to continue in full knowledge of the risks)?
    – Some third-party (did someone else’s actions cause this truck to crash – someone who can be pursued for costs)?
    – Insurance (i.e. all of us, who will no doubt have this added to our premiums)?

    I suspect that one way or another we will all end up paying for this, as usual with our high-cost, high-risk road transport system.

  2. nemo, 25. October 2021, 8:48

    The Remutaka Hill Road is an appalling stretch of road for trucks – and especially for the people in cars following them. Just ban all trucks from it, completely. There’s a perfectly good railway line below on which you could put freight through. It especially infuriates me when I come across a logging truck on that road – endangering everyone, including the truck driver – when the logs would be much better taken by rail. Nick Leggett and the Road Transport Forum – why don’t you do something about this?

  3. Geoff Campbell, 3. November 2021, 11:50

    Was it the driver’s fault? Or maybe a mechanical failure? What make of truck/tractor unit was it?!

  4. Ray Chung, 3. November 2021, 15:06

    I read an article on Facebook, written by a motor cyclist who was following it, that described how the truck and trailer went off the road and how they rushed down the bank together with a tanker driver who stopped as soon as he saw it go off the road and cradled and comforted the driver. Apparently, the truck and trailer was caught by a wind gust and was blown off the road.