A crash between a truck and a car near Methven has killed two people and left one with serious injuries, police say.
The two deaths came after a horror Queen's Birthday weekend in which six people were killed on New Zealand roads - a number that has "devastated" police.
This morning's crash happened at 11.55am, at the intersection of State Highway 72 and Waimarama Rd. The two occupants of the car were killed, while the driver has been airlifted to hospital with serious injuries, police said.
A source told the Herald the driver of the truck was trapped for a long period, with specialist gear brought from Timaru to extricate him.
The intersection is known to be notorious by locals. SH72 runs from the Rakaia Gorge to South Canterbury up the back of Methven township, while Waimarama Rd (SH77) leads to the Mt Hutt skifield access road.
Fire and Emergency New Zealand spokesman Andrew Norris told Stuff the truck, believed to be carrying livestock, had overturned and was blocking the road.
The Serious Crash Unit has been advised and an investigation into the circumstances of the crash is underway. The road remains blocked and diversions are in place.
Over the weekend four drivers, one motorcycle passenger and a motorcyclist were killed in separate crashes, police said.
That is double the number killed over Queen's Birthday Weekend last year, and put the number of road deaths since January 1 at 168 - 170 including the fatal crash in Methven this morning.
"Any death on our roads is one too many, so six people being killed over one holiday weekend is absolutely shattering for many whānau, families and communities," said road policing operations manager Inspector Peter McKennie.
"We've seen far too much heartbreak in our communities already this year as the result of tragedies on the road.
"Everyone has to play their part to stop more people being killed on New Zealand roads and reverse the devastating trend this year. We all need to be very conscious of the risks at all times when we are on or around the road environment."
Many more people might have been killed without enforcement and prevention efforts from police and their partners, he added.
"Most people behave safely on the roads most of the time, but it only takes one risky decision or moment of inattention to result in tragedy, including on the part of those who generally drive or ride in a safe manner. The actions of every driver and rider makes a difference."
McKennie urged everyone to be careful behind the wheel, especially with winter setting in.
While there was no silver bullet, McKennie said drivers could help keep the roads safe by:
- Not being distracted
- Driving in a manner and speed that let them respond to the unexpected
- Paying close attention to changing conditions
- Never driving tired or substance-impaired, and
- Making sure everyone in the car was buckled in or in a child restraint.