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Dunedin resident Tony Bennett called police on Tuesday evening after a large tree had blocked Waianakarua Rd, about 300m from State Highway 1 between Herbert and Hampden.
The police asked Mr Bennett if they should bring a chainsaw.
''I said `I think you'll need more than a chainsaw'.''
Mr Bennett said he helped with the cleanup by collecting some of the scattered pine cones in his trailer.
Waitaki District Council roading network engineer Ping Ge said the pine tree had been about 40m tall, with a trunk more than 5m in circumference.
The Otago Regional Council had been called because some branches had fallen in the river, he said.
The reasons why the tree had fallen were unknown and the weather had been good with no wind, Mr Ge said.
SouthRoads started removing the tree yesterday and a single lane would be open today, he said.