Truck plunges 100m off cliff

The driver of a 16-wheeler truck that went over a cliff while carrying sound and visual equipment to the Rhythm & Vines music festival in Gisborne walked away unhurt.

The incident occurred about 8.30am on Waioeka Rd in the Waioeka Gorge, about 50km north of the festival site at Waiohika Estate in Gisborne.

Festival spokeswoman Sara Cairney said the truck was carrying equipment for the Rhythm Stage, which was to host artists including Kimbra and Mark Ronson - the headline act for New Year's Eve.

"It should have pretty low impact, although we don't actually know the extent of the damage to equipment yet," Ms Cairney said.

"The issue is really, even if a lot of the equipment is fine a lot of the electrical stuff is quite sensitive. It could be good be we are looking at contingencies of where we could get other equipment from."

The truck and equipment belonged to a contractor, which was organising the retrieval of the vehicle and its contents from the gorge.

More than 25,000 people are expected at the festival. The camping ground opens today and the first act is scheduled for 5pm tomorrow.

Festival managing director Scott Witters said the show would go on.

"The driver is fine and from what we understand the gear is in good condition.

"We have five stages to run and a whole lot of equipment to manage, so we wouldn't have let this interrupt us in any case."

The gear was being carted in a solid - rather than curtain-sided - truck and was professionally packed in road cases designed to be bumped around, he added.

"This stuff is on the road for a couple of hundred days every year so it has to be pretty robust.

"Anything that happens is pretty much par for the course when you are putting a festival together and we just deal with things to make sure the show goes on. That is what we are here to do."

But if the crash was the bad news, the good news was a weather forecast for the region that tipped clear skies and temperatures in the mid- to late-20s from tomorrow into the New Year.

"It is absolutely brilliant ... Gisborne is definitely going to be the best place in the country to be," Mr Witters said.

This morning's accident in the Waioeka Gorge followed yesterday's crash when three Hamilton men believed to be travelling to Gisborne for R&V rolled down a bank in the early hours of the morning.

In that incident - also at the Opotiki end of the gorge - the people in the crashed car were taken to Gisborne Hospital in other vehicles they had been travelling in convoy with.

The 19 and 20-year-olds were treated in the hospital's Accident and Emergency department and discharged.

A witness said it had appeared that the vehicle rolled several times before coming to rest on its wheels.

- By Matthew Theunissen of APNZ and Kristine Walsh and Murray Robertson of the Gisborne Herald

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