Passengers on the fatal Ohakune Mountain Rd bus crash have recounted chilling moments in the lead up to the incident.
Travelling with his brother, one passenger told the Herald they had only been driving for around five minutes when the bus' brakes failed.
The passengers started to panic as the bus picked up speed and began to sway as the driver attempted to steer it down the road.
"We just kept picking up speed, leaning further to each side ... it actually felt like the movie Speed," the passenger, who wished to remain anonymous, said.
"There seemed to be no attempt from the driver to communicate with the passengers about what was happening. We had to figure it out for ourselves."
One passenger got out of their seat, opened up the back doors and leapt out of the bus, meanwhile another told others to put their helmets on.
Everyone started bracing themselves as they prepared for impact. That was when he started to expect the worst.
"Me and my brother looked at each other and we both said that 'we are going to die'," he said.
The speed kept increasing and the bus, carrying 31 people, rolled on a corner around 2.30pm on Saturday, killing a young female and injuring at least 18 others.
He said people were quick to help and "everyone that responded was absolutely amazing".
The passenger was currently nursing a broken collarbone, rib and compression fractures in Whanganui hospital while his brother was in Waikato, also with a broken collarbone.
Fenella Murphy had spent the morning skiing with girlfriend Aleisha Cope when they decided to take the shuttle back to their car at the bottom of the mountain.
She said the bus had travelled about five minutes from the skifield before its brakes appeared to fail.
"The first sound we heard was this honking noise, like someone tooting the horn for a long time, and were a bit concerned as to what that was," she said.
"Then we heard the driver panicking, and every time he stepped on the brake, there was sort of a gushing of air — we were starting to realise what was happening after that."
Passengers began preparing for impact.
"Everyone was bracing themselves ... someone shouted, if you have a helmet, put it on."
Less than a minute after the apparent mechanical problems began, the bus slammed into the side of a bank, flipped and came to rest on its left side.
Murphy was one of the first out of the wreck, walking out the smashed front window.
She began helping the rest of the passengers.
"Everyone was just in a shock ... there was a lot of blood, a lot of head injuries."
Murphy, who spent the night in Whanganui Hospital was thankful to have escaped with bruises, while Cope suffered a back injury that wasn't serious.
She said her heart went out to the young woman who didn't make it.
In a statement Ruapehu Alpine Lifts said it had suspended the operation of all of its Mitsubishi Fuso buses in its transport fleet pending the outcome of the investigation.
The mountain would re-open tomorrow and shuttles would resume.
A karakia was held at the accident site today and support networks had been established for emergency services, staff and injured guests.
Investigations by the Police serious crash unit, commercial vehicle safety team and CIB were under way.
The bus has been taken to Whanganui to be examined as part of the investigation.
A Waikato District Health Board spokeswoman confirmed two women aged 29 and 31, and a 20-year-old man were this morning stable in a ward.
The 31-year-old woman had been in a critical condition when she arrived yesterday afternoon.
A St John spokesperson said yesterday at least 15 other people had moderate injuries, including head injuries, and were treated at a triage centre set up in Ohakune.
Three helicopters flew to the crash site on Mt Ruapehu to help transport the wounded.
The accident left a number of skiers stranded on the mountain for several hours after the road was closed in both directions.