Five members of a Lake Hawea family were considered lucky to be alive last night after a runaway people mover crashed into their lounge.
The couple living in the Charles Court house were putting their two preschool children to bed in the rear of the house, when the Toyota Granvia people carrier crashed through the front of the house just before 8pm.
The 84-year-old mother of the male occupant was also in the house but not in the lounge at the time.
Senior Constable Sean Hurley said the family were uninjured but badly shaken. He considered they could have been killed or seriously injured if they had not left the lounge shortly before the vehicle hit.
The driver was the sole occupant and was bruised but not believed to be badly injured.
Senior Constable Hurley said he did not want to speculate about what went wrong but said it was the first crash of its kind he had attended in the Wanaka area in more than 10 years.
Chief Fire Officer for the Hawea Volunteer Fire Brigade Doug Brenssell said the vehicle had come from a driveway above Charles Court.
It ran down a steep empty section; across Charles Court; through a section, narrowly avoiding a large boat on a trailer; smashed a wooden boundary fence; crossed a front lawn and a sandpit; took out a veranda post; and crashed cleanly through the double aluminium ranch sliders.
The vehicle ended up inside the lounge, shunting a lounge suite and clothes rack across the room.
A volunteer firefighter managed to start the vehicle, and drove it back out on flat tyres.
Mr Brenssell said several volunteers were builders and they quickly cleared the debris and boarded up the damaged door to enable the family to remain in the house last night.