A police officer of 17 years says this week has been the worst of his career to date, with 14 deaths on the country's roads in just five days.
The number of road fatalities in New Zealand is emerging as one of the nation's biggest problems, national manager for road policing Superintendent Steve Greally told NZ Newswire on Wednesday.
Speed was the top factor when it came to crashes, and Supt Greally said limits needed to be reviewed to reflect the state of roads.
"We can put 110km/h on roads built for it, like expressways, but the reverse is equally true. If we increase speed on those, we need to decrease speed on those not engineered for high speeds," he said.
The latest fatal crash, north of Taupo, killed four people - including a five- year-old boy - and injured a further eight on Tuesday.
Supt Greally said attending accident scenes was hard for everyone involved.
"(Taupo) was a horrific scene for officers and ambulance staff, tow-truck drivers and undertakers," he said.
"You couldn't write a script of more horror and it's worse to knock on the door of families. It's hands down the toughest job in New Zealand."
It's not yet known if speed is behind the fatal crashes this past week, as investigators work to determine the causes.
"The bottom line is decision-making from our drivers - this problem won't go away until this country understands that this is a really serious problem," Supt Greally said.
"Not one death is acceptable, that's our view."
The national road toll for the year stands at 296, 44 greater than at the same time in 2016.
ROAD FATALITY STATISTICS FOR 2017 SO FAR
• 159 driver deaths
• 62 passengers
• 30 motorcyclists
• 31 pedestrians
• 15 cyclists
(Source: Ministry of Transport)