By Belinda Feek of the New Zealand Herald

Tributes are beginning to flow for those killed in yesterday's horror crash that claimed three lives.

The 21-year-old driver of the vehicle remains critical in Waikato Hospital and unaware that his friends are dead.

The group of four were heading north on the Desert Rd at about 7.15am when they appear to have lost control and slid into the path of an oncoming truck carrying waste substances.


The passengers -- two from Wellington, one from Auckland -- died at the scene. The driver was flown to hospital by Taupo's Greenlea Rescue Helicopter.

Friends and family of the Wellington woman who died have taken to Facebook to express their shock and horror at her sudden death.

"For all of u guys that don't know my sister passed away today in a car accident today, i am truely shattered and lost with words, i love and miss u my sister [sic]," the woman's brother posted.

Taupo road policing Senior Sergeant Fane Troy told the Herald he expects to release the victims' names later today as he was still liaising with the Indian Embassy about three occupants.

The other female victim was of Samoan descent living in Wellington.

He says it appears the car crossed the centreline when approaching a 65km/h bend on State Highway 1 and into the path of a southbound truck.

The truck driver was shaken but uninjured.

Troy urged motorists to take care on the Desert Rd.

"The Desert Rd is notorious for changing conditions. You can have beautiful weather on one side of the hill and on the other side you can have black ice and ice and snow, so we encourage all motorists to take extreme caution."