Two teenage girls who worked together at a Manawatu stable were among three people killed on the roads at the weekend.
Seventeen-year-old Holly Ann Eades and her friend, 18-year-old Jackie Maree Miller, were returning to work at Copper Belt Lodge racing stables near Feilding on Saturday afternoon when their 1987 Ford Laser collided with a late-model Range Rover.
Ms Eades, who was driving and lost control of the vehicle, and Ms Miller, who was in the front seat, were both killed in the 1.30pm collision at the intersection of Stewart Rd and SH3.
Stewart Rd resident Mark Stratford was at home when he heard a "huge bang".
"I knew something bad had happened because the bang was just unbelievable," he said.
Veteran horse trainer Kevin Gray said he suspected something bad had happened when his two workers failed to return from their lunch break.
"I made a few enquiries and no one knew, and the next minute the mother rang and told me."
Mr Gray had known Ms Eades since she was a young girl while Ms Miller, a "workaholic" whom he "would have been happy to call my daughter", had joined the stables two years ago.
Both girls had attended Feilding High School, said Mr Gray.
"Horses were their lives, and they were girls who had a big future, just because that was their love and their work was excellent."
Cars were seen coming and going from the crash scene throughout yesterday as mourners left tributes and flowers at the site.
Many friends also paid tribute on Facebook, one describing Ms Miller as a "beautiful, amazing, gorgeous, stunning girl".
The driver of the Range Rover, a 54-year-old man from Palmerston North, was treated at hospital for minor injuries.
Police are still investigating the cause of the crash and said that alcohol was not believed to have been afactor.
A 56-year-old Nelson woman was killed when her vehicle and a truck collided head-on on SH1 at Ward, 43km southwest of Blenheim, about 8pm on Saturday.
Sergeant Mark Kirkwood said it appeared the woman's northbound vehicle was in the wrong lane.
The highway remained closed for several hours after flammable material began to leak from the truck, he said.
"Near to the scene was the main trunk line, and trains were also stopped to negate the possibility of the truck's cargo exploding."
Police were last night contacting the dead woman's next of kin.
Shortly after 5.15pm on Saturday, two people were left critically injured after an accident at the corner of Athenree and Steel Rds in Waihi Beach.
In another accident yesterday morning, the passenger of a vehicle that crashed in Tristram St, Hamilton, was taken to Waikato Hospital in a serious condition.
The weekend's three deaths bring the road toll for the year to 161.