100km's too fast for blind corner, Hāwea Flat says

by Lauren Pattemore - Feb 01, 2023

A near-miss involving a truck and the local Presbyterian church has prompted members of the Hāwea Flat community to ask for a lower speed limit on the stretch of road – and its not the first time the issue has been raised.

A Hāwea Flat resident since 2002, Hamish Horsley says two blind corners, narrow lanes, and a 100-kilometre speed limit creates a dangerous combo on Kane Road.

Windmill Corner on Kane Road.

Mr Horsley says since May 2022 he knows of three cars that have misjudged the tight turn on what’s known as Windmill Corner and “flown off the road”.

He also recalls two of his neighbours having been in a head-on on the bend ten years ago when one of them crossed over the centre line.

Hāwea resident Jennie Harding says visibility around Windmill Corner is so low drivers have to “use their ears to know what’s coming”.

She recently witnessed a Kane Road resident pull out of her driveway in front of a truck – because they didn't see it coming.

“The driver came around and slammed on his engine brakes as she was backing out, and it was metres between them. I rang the council that day, and I actually cried because it was so scary," Ms Harding says.

“It's just such a blind corner and everyone takes it so fast."

The community's fears are growing.

Mr Horsley says Kane Road used to be a relatively sleepy stretch of Hāwea Flat, but now there are large articulated trucks going past all day. 

As far as he's aware the community has formally applied for a lowered speed limit four times already. 

But in May last year, when he met council staff at the site, they told him they were unaware of these previous requests. 

Since that meeting, he says he's been in contact with the council with additional reports of near-misses, but no one from the council has contacted him with any updates.

In recent days he's uploaded photos to social media of an accident he believes happened on Friday to gain more attention.

The photos appear to show a truck that has come off Kane Road and “narrowly missed” hitting the St Ninians Presbyterian Church.

The location of Friday's near miss.

St Ninians is up the round from Windmill Corner, closer to Hāwea Flat School and a drastic change in speed limit to 30 kilometres per hour.

In the post, he encourages the community to report every incident they witness to the council, as “the more data collected the stronger the case”.

His post has prompted follow-up action from new local councillor Cody Tucker, who has passed on the photos and social media comments to the Queenstown Lakes District Council.

He says the information is in the hands of those working on a district-wide review of roads and their speed limits.

Crux has asked for confirmation of this from the council and for more details on the review process.

A response was at the time of publication, but is expected by the end of the week.

A Hāwea resident himself, Mr Tucker says "it's always been quite a scary piece of roading".

“It's been a long time coming to do something about it, so it feels like one of those things that can be done quite easily. And, yeah, hopefully, it can be before anything else happens.”

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