A fleet of ambulances and helicopters rescued seven tourists from a motor vehicle crash on the Haast Pass road, State Highway 6, about 10km north of Makarora yesterday.

Three of the tourists with serious injuries were flown to Dunedin Hospital, while the other four, with moderate to minor injuries, were taken to the Wanaka Lakes Health Centre in three ambulances.

St John South Island region communications adviser Ian Henderson said one of the patients flown to Dunedin was a woman and one was a girl aged under 12.

A third person, a man, was seen being helped from a helicopter in Dunedin.

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Ambulance officers transfer one of two patients from a helicopter to a waiting ambulance.
Ambulance officers transfer one of two patients from a helicopter to a waiting ambulance.

Wanaka police sub-area commander Senior Sergeant Allan Grindell told the Otago Daily Times at the scene, just north of Brady Creek, the Toyota people mover was travelling towards the West Coast.

He understood it was carrying members of two families.

Tyre marks suggested after the vehicle emerged from a gentle right-hand bend, it continued across the road on to the right-hand verge, travelled for several metres and then ran into bush and a water course.

Snr Sgt Grindell had no further information about the likely cause of the crash.

The male driver was among those taken to the Wanaka health centre.

Snr Sgt Grindell declined to disclose the nationality of the tourists, except to say they were from overseas.

As reported by the ODT on Tuesday, southern police have been instructed by Southern road policing manager Inspector Tania Baron to refrain from commenting on the nationality or ethnicity of drivers involved in crashes.

The road, along the floor of the Makarora Valley, before the climb to the pass, was dry and did not appear likely to be affected by ice during sunny conditions yesterday.

A motorist who had travelled through the pass early yesterday morning told the ODT some sections higher up were affected by ice.

Another heavy frost appeared likely overnight last night.

The crash was attended by volunteer fire crews from Makarora, Lake Hawea and Wanaka.