Hysterical young people were helped out of a passenger bus involved in a fatal crash in Central Otago by two fencing contractors.
A man is dead and four people are in a serious condition in hospital tonight following the collision between a four-wheel drive and a bus near Eliott Rd in Alexandra.
Multiple emergency services, including two rescue helicopters and two ambulances, were called to the State Highway 8 scene at 1.52pm.
Police confirmed tonight that the driver and sole occupant of the four-wheel drive was killed in the crash. The man, who was from central Otago, will not be named until his next-of-kin have been informed.
The bus was travelling from Dunedin to Queenstown carrying 10 passengers. All 10 people were injured in the crash, St John said.
Tonight police thanked members of the public who were first on the scene and did a "fantastic job in assisting the injured" before emergency services arrived.
Fencing contractors Laurie Crawford and Robert Watson were fencing beside the crash site, and Crawford told Fairfax they heard a "hell of a bang".
"All of a sudden we heard a hell of a bang and then a big scraping noise afterwards," he said.
"We came across the road and said 's..t that's not good'. People were trying to get out of the bus. There was lots of yelling and screaming going on."
St John spokesman Gerard Campbell said two of the injured people with serious injuries, and another with moderate injuries, were helicoptered to Dunedin Hospital emergency department.
Seven people with minor injuries were transported to Roxburgh Medical Centre.
Police said this evening four of the injured are now in Dunedin Hospital in a serious condition.
Earlier this evening the small tourist bus was visible off the road and in a ditch and a badly damaged four-wheel drive was on the side of the road.
The road was closed and traffic backed up on either side of the crash.
It only reopened to one-lane traffic around 4.45pm.
There were no diversions in place and extensive delays were expected. The alternative route to Dunedin was via Gore or Middlemarch.
Motorists were being asked to avoid travel in the area if possible.
A spokeswoman for the New Zealand Transport Agency said earlier that no alternative routes bypassing the crash scene were available and the road would remain closed for some time.
"It is not known how long it will take to reopen the highway to one lane."
SH8 remained closed for nearly three hours until one lane reopened at about 4.45pm.
The Serious Crash Unit is investigating the cause of the crash.