A couple who died in a head-on crash were due to celebrate their wedding anniversary.
They were on their way back from Jesse Shortland's father's funeral when they collided with another car in Dipton on Sunday night.
Shortland, 28, and his wife Samie Shortland died. Two infant children were pulled from the wreckage by a farmer and a firefighter. Their 2-year-old son Heath and 8-month-old daughter Skylar were both in car seats and have survived, Fairfax reported.
The woman driver of the second car also died. All three were in their 20s.
They were among nine people who lost their lives on New Zealand roads between Friday and the early hours of this morning, bringing the road toll to 292 - up 41 on the same time last year.
Shortland's aunt, former NZ First MP Ria Bond, told Fairfax she was meant to be in the car with the family after attending her brother's funeral in Hokitika.
"I was meant to be in the car with them. I decided I would cancel my plane tickets and go with them, but the airport was closed so I had to wait.
"Our family are just devastated by the triple tragedy over the weekend ... we're pretty broken as a family right now."
The couple were due to celebrate their third wedding anniversary on Labour Weekend, Fairfax reported.
Dipton farmer Suzanne Harvey has told of the horrific scene of a triple-fatal car crash and helping to care for two young children in the mangled wreck.
She was at home with her husband and daughter when she heard what sounded like a rifle going off.
"I thought that maybe the neighbours were out hunting, so I sat out on the deck but couldn't see anything, usually you see a spotlight (if someone is hunting).
"I looked out to the road and a milk tanker with its hazard lights on and I saw another couple of vehicles put its their hazard lights on, so I hopped in the car and went to the scene, and it wasn't good," Harvey told the Herald.
Arriving at the crash with firemen already on the scene, Harvey could hear a baby crying in the back seat of one of the cars.
"There were two little boys in the back, another gentleman was holding a little two-year old and got him out of the car.
"I said 'I'll take the baby' so I just picked him up and comforted him as best I could until the ambulance arrived, that's all I could do," she said.
After the ambulances arrived, Harvey said she was home for 10 minutes and heard a helicopter arrive to pick up the children.
"I just hope they're alright. You don't know what internal injuries they have."
A number of crashes have occurred around the Harvey family's home, she recalls.
"(We had) a fatality about a year or so ago when a young man hit a power pole just south of our house, and my husband was just saying someone had gone through our fence probably 20 metres away from the accident.
"It's a long stretch of road that people can put their foot down and go quite fast, I don't know what caused the accident last night, but it was just horrific."
The crash reinforced how precious life was to Harvey, with last night's events still in the forefront of her mind.
"The thing that keeps me going is that if it happened to me, I would hope someone would step in and take charge of my kids," Harvey said.
The two children were flown to Kew Hospital in Invercargill. The toddler had moderate injuries and the baby had minor injuries. Both are being supported by members of their family, with their situation deemed to be non life-threatening.