Grape harvesters on highway a 'recipe for disaster'

DEREK FLYNN/stuff.co.nz

Evan White says the combination of trucks, harvesters and heavy traffic on SH63 could be lethal.

Harvesters and highways don't mix at the best of times, never mind when it's the South Island's "white knuckle highway".

Dairy farmer Evan White says traffic along State Highway 63 is already a "rat race" and will struggle with slow-moving grape harvesters added to the mix.

Police agree that caution is needed, and urge all motorists to co-exist on the State Highway 1 replacement during the annual harvest in Marlborough.

Grape harvesters make their way up the Wairau Valley during last year's harvest. (File photo)
DEREK FLYNN/FAIRFAX NZ

Grape harvesters make their way up the Wairau Valley during last year's harvest. (File photo)

State Highway 63, which passes through Renwick, is bordered by more than 50 kilometres of grapes, which will be collected over the coming weeks.

READ MORE:
Wairau Valley residents worry accident is imminent on narrow, battered SH63
Pressure builds on alternative State Highway 1
'Flat out' inland 'Quake highway' has truck driver's wife fearing the worst

The highway forms part of the South Island's new main trunkline between Picton and Christchurch and includes SH7, 65 and 6.

Farmer Evan White says if motorists are not focused they could drive into the back of slow-moving grape harvesters.
DEREK FLYNN/FAIRFAX NZ

Farmer Evan White says if motorists are not focused they could drive into the back of slow-moving grape harvesters.

White, who lived 60 kilometres west of Blenheim on SH63, said some drivers thought they were invincible and the demands placed on the route were concerning.

"All the gondolas and harvesters can really do is about 40kmh, if you get a convoy of them it seems like a recipe for disaster," he said.

"If people are not 100 per cent focused they will go right into the back of them.

A truck heading south on State Highway 7 with a queue of cars behind it.
ALDEN WILLIAMS/FAIRFAX NZ

A truck heading south on State Highway 7 with a queue of cars behind it.

"The traffic, harvesters and trucks under pressure is just a lethal combination."

Ad Feedback

Five people have died on the new alternate highway between Picton and Christchurch, with two young Christchurch men the latest to join the death toll after a crash on Tuesday.

The crash, involving a white car and a Freight Lines truck, happened about 5 kilometres north of Culverden on State Highway 7 about 8am.

Five people have died on the new alternate highway between Christchurch and Picton, with two Christchurch men the latest ...
JOSEPH JOHNSON/FAIRFAX NZ

Five people have died on the new alternate highway between Christchurch and Picton, with two Christchurch men the latest to join the death toll after a crash on Tuesday.

Putting harvesters onto the highway would only increase the dangers of the entire route, White said.

"You're taking your life into your own hands when driving this road," he said.

The average number of vehicles passing through St Arnaud, on SH63, on a daily basis had increased from 41 to 579 since the quake - a jump of 1306 per cent.

The only way harvest would pass without serious incident was for drivers to be cautious at all times, White said.

"The freight, people and grapes all need to get through - if we're all sensible, we'll all get there," he said.

"Surely it's better to get there five minutes late than not at all.

"If you don't need to take the road, don't."

Marlborough highway patrol team leader Sergeant Barrie Greenall said all vehicles needed to co-exist, which could be difficult due to the difference in speeds.

"The last thing drivers would expect is a slow-moving agricultural vehicle in the middle of State Highway 63," he said.

"Harvest is upon us and you may be at the end of a long journey, but you still need to be aware."

Hazard lights on harvesters could come at you quickly and caution was advised to those who might be at the end of a long drive, Greenall said.

"Be alert and pay attention," he said.

Police and Marlborough Roads organised a driver information session last week to remind agricultural drivers of the hazards.

Last year, a total of 45 spills were recorded on Marlborough roads due to the grape harvest.

 - The Marlborough Express

Comments

Ad Feedback
special offers
Auckland

Fireworks and fundraising

The Taupaki School Monster Fireworks display is in its 32nd year.

The Taupaki School Monster Fireworks display will take place at the Kumeū Showgrounds on October 27.

Sports clubs go smokefree

Eden Rugby Club chairman Mark Bateman says members and supporters can expect more smokefree signage this season.

Ashtrays and dirty butts at the local footy club are becoming a thing of the past as grounds go smokefree.

Environmental theme to poetry collection

Ngāpuhi poet Briar Wood shares her environmental concern in her poetry book Rāwāhi.

Poems in the collection Rāwāhi travel on emotional and linguistic voyages to make aroha from the movements between people and places.

A mother's pain

Toko said Amber, who was 21 at the time, was stripped of the bright future ahead of her.

Mum of innocent motorist killed by car in police chase says pursuit policy needs to change.

Wellington

Kea - our top bird video

New Zealand's mountain parrot, the kea, has been crowned bird of the year.

They terrorise our cars and damage mountain buildings – but all is forgiven as kea get crowned bird of the year.

Wife killer was insane

Simon Frank believed that killing his wife would secure her a place in heaven.

Suffering a mental disorder, he killed his wife to secure her place in heaven.

Five killed on roads

Jaimey Leigh Fellows was one of five Labour Weekend road deaths.

Road toll for Labour Weekend period gets to five, following death of 81-year-old cyclist in Christchurch.

'Entrepreneur's' sentence quashed

Hawke's Bay 'entrepreneur' Craig Nisbet has had his jail sentence quashed and granted leave to apply for home detention.

The Court of Appeal called Craig Nisbet's jail sentence for perjury 'grossly disproportionate'.

Canterbury

Five killed during long weekend

Jaimey Leigh Fellows, who was killed in a car crash overnight, has been remembered as a funny and genuine woman who ...

Road toll for Labour Weekend period gets to five, including two in Canterbury.

Woman dies after fall

An elderly woman has died after falling from her bicycle on Monday. (File photo)

An 81-year-old woman has died after falling off her bicycle on a Canterbury road.

St Asaph squeeze video

The cycle lanes on St Asaph St,

One busy central Christchurch street; hundreds of differing opinions leading to division.

Funeral angst 'not worth it'

Poppy funerals director Jasmin Teague intended to keep operating her business, but changed her mind days later.

Claims of death threats and poor health sink embattled funeral director.

Waikato

Pūks run rampant in posh 'burb

28122016 News Photo- Ricky Wilson/Fairfax Stock Photo 
Pukeko 
Native Bird

Swamphens cause stink as streets among million dollar homes littered with waste.

Killer saw signs in sky

Simon Frank believed that killing his wife would secure her a place in heaven.

Believing he was a messiah, husband killed his wife to secure her place in heaven.

Health boss accused of deleting data

Former Waikato DHB chief executive 
Nigel Murray. [file photo].

Ministry to investigate claims that former health boss Nigel Murray deleted data from cell.

Body in lake trial date set

Cory Scott Jefferies, 45, (left) has pleaded not guilty to murdering Kim Louise Richmond.

Waikato man accused of murdering his partner Kim Richmond will stand trial on July 23 next year.

Taranaki

The school without walls video

Green School was founded by former jewelers John and Cynthia Hardy in 2006.

Kiwi parents Rachel and Mike Perrett 'lost' their son in New Zealand. They found him in Bali.

Garden a coastal haven

Paradise on the coast.

This colourful garden is art, rather than work for the owners. Take a 360 degree look around.

Junior events join ITU Triathlon World Cup

Sophie Corbidge, competes in the Elite Woman's race during the ITU World Cup sprint triathlon held at Ngamotu beach in ...

The best are coming to New Plymouth - and they're getting younger.

Profiling the nominees

Hāwera-Tangahoe Community Board is looking for a new member.

Manawatu

From bodybuilder to mum

Jose Marshall went from learning how to walk again to competing at the bodybuilding nationals.

Jose Marshall turns her focus closer to home after her coma-to-competition success story.

Māori seats favoured

Pouwhenua outside the Palmerston North City Council have been put to rest awaiting restoration while councillors have ...

Palmerston North City councillors are backing the idea of Māori wards.

Death was an accident

An Ashhurst man died after a fire at a Wyndham St house.

A man who died in a house fire in Manawatū lit the blaze himself, but did not intend to die.

Pahiatua Track closed

The Pahiatua Track is closed after a truck and trailer unit tipped on its side, blocking the road.

A truck and trailer unit has flipped on its side, blocking the road.

Nelson

Bloom draws crowd to Isel Park

Greg Olsen in a replica uniform seems part of a new display at Isel House.

Isel House reopens with a new display about soldiers of WWI with a Stoke connection.

State homes lay empty

A Housing New Zealand house in Norwich St, Stoke has been vacant for four years.

More than 50 people are waiting for homes in Nelson while 15 Housing homes remain vacant. 

Fighting back after cancer

Tyson Fitzpatrick oversees Thomas Ngaruhe strength and condition training.

After cancer treatment left him weak and exhausted, Thomas Ngaruhe fought his way back to fitness thanks to an innovative programme.

Injured tramper airlifted

The Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter flew into Kahurangi National Park on Monday to pick up an injured tramper.

A tramper has been lifted from Kahurangi National Park after hurting his leg.

Marlborough

Hanging up his helmet video

Justin Leov and his wife Victoria, son Luca and daughter Annabella get to spend more time together now Justin has retired.

Justin Leov has bought the property where he won his first national champs, added a tiny house and plans to develop tracks on the hills around it.

Unicycle effort in the balance video

Endurance sportsman Lee Griggs will attempt to cycle the Molesworth on a unicycle to raise funds for mental health.

A few weeks ago, he'd never even been on a unicycle.

Man stabbed

Police at the scene of a stabbing on Lane St, Blenheim.

A 26-year-old, known to the victim, has been arrested.

'No more selling of state houses'

Labour's Kaikōura candidate Janette Walker believes the new Government will address social housing in the electorate.

A new Labour-led government will put the brakes on selling state houses in Marlborough, and may even buy some back.

South Canterbury

Timaru micro-brewery progressing

The Ship Hop Brewing team (from left) Nic Mecchia, Hadley Rich, Brad Reid and Niv Cotterell are looking forward to ...

Beer will soon be flowing, in sample sizes, at a new Timaru micro-brewery.

'Keep rolling it out'

Waimate mayor Craig Rowley, left, Timaru mayor Damon Odey and Mackenzie mayor Graham Smith.

Faster internet for four towns will be good for businesses, mayors say.

Life after cancer video

Liam Crutcher, 5, was diagnosed with hepatoblastoma, a cancerous tumour on his liver, when he was nine months old.  He ...

Liam Crutcher loves to show people the scar on his stomach left after surgery.

Good behaviour praised

Aerial view showing  New Zealand Motorhome association rally on Caroline Bay in Timaru over Labour Weekend.

Good behaviour of South Cantabrians praised over the long- and jam packed- weekend.

Otago

New boss for Aurora Energy

Dr Richard Fletcher has been named as the new chief executive of Aurora Energy.

Dr Richard Fletcher has been named as the new chief executive for Aurora Energy.

Central Otago on a plate

Armando Varlotta, of Armando's Kitchen in Cromwell, won the People's Choice section of the inaugural Central Otago  ...

An Italian inspired dish from a Cromwell chef and rabbit pies have won voters over in an inaugural Central Otago cuisine competition.

Clutha-Southland NZ First MP-elect's first white-hot days in parliament

Clutha-Southland New Zealand First candidate Mark Patterson watching his leader Winston Peters on election night.

First white-hot days in parliament take on the stark-cold reality of government.

Show to 'blow away' QT

Queenstown's Marty Newell is playing Sam Carmichael in  Mamma Mia! production from November 8 to November 11

The cast of Queenstown's production of Mamma Mia! are having fun rehearsing for November's shows.

Southland

Location scout's extraordinary life video

Dave Comer was considered New Zealand's first professional film location scout.

From Barry Crump commercials to Peter Jackson blockbusters, Dave Comer connected NZ's landscapes with its people.

Ex-convict fears 'war on me'

Rex Haig, of Dunedin, is hoping to lodge a compensation claim with the Government.

Rex Haig's murder conviction was quashed, but his fight for justice is far from over.

Garage fire being investigated

A garage on a Conon St, Invercargill, property was gutted by fire on Sunday afternoon.

Fire investigators have been requested following a garage fire in Invercargill.

Climbers rescued after freezing night

Chris Prudden​, leader of Wakatipu LandSAR's alpine cliff rescue team.

So-called shortcut leads to 10-hour overnight stay in freezing conditions for two Aussie climbers.

Ad Feedback