September 14, 2022
Two people were airlifted to hospital after a vehicle rolled down a steep bank in rural Bay of Plenty, in an operation that required two winch rescues by two separate helicopters.
The crash happened off Thompson’s Track in the Kaimai Range on Tuesday.
Choppers from Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust and Philips Search and Rescue from Waikato were scrambled to the scene, which was described by one spokesperson as “very remote”.
Shortly after landing, a four-wheel drive vehicle was discovered 30 metres down a bank.
Crew from the Westpac 3 chopper assisted a female patient in her 20s, who needed to be winched from the scene.
She was flown to Middlemore Hospital in a critical condition.
A male in his 30s was also airlifted from the scene of the crash and taken to Waikato Hospital.
A Philips Search and Rescue spokesperson confirmed the male had suffered spinal injuries and was in a serious condition.
“There was absolutely no access via road,” they said, “so crews had very few options.
“That’s why we ended up carrying out two winch rescues.”
The rescues took place shortly before midday, on Tuesday, September 13.
Thompson’s Track crosses the Kaimai Range between Manawaru and Katikati.
According to Matamata-Piako District Council, the track is used extensively by four-wheel drive vehicles as well as trampers, mountain bikers, hunters and horse riders.
A roading upgrade report in 2020 described the area as having “high archaeological value”.
The report describes the track as “a traditional pathway through the Kaimai Range connecting the foreshore of the Tauranga Harbour with inland bush and the Waikato, exiting at Manawaru near Te Aroha”.