A horror night on the road has seen six people killed in road crashes - three in a campervan in Canterbury, two in Waikato and one in Northland.
In Geraldine, in Canterbury, three people were killed when a campervan they were travelling in hit a barrier at the intersection of Te Moana Rd at State Highway 79 before catching fire around 1am.
All three of the campervan’s occupants were killed.
The crash occurred on a rural stretch of road only a few minutes’ drive from the town centre.
The side railing on the highway is clearly damaged from where the van crashed.
Aoraki Area Commander Inspector Vicki Walker said the crash was a “terrible tragedy”.
”Police are working to discover the cause and notify next of kin.”
Mayor of Timaru, Nigel Bowen, told Herald the stretch of State Highway 79 where the fatal crash occurred is commonly used by campers.
He said while little is known about the circumstances of the crash or people involved, he would be surprised if it involved Geraldine locals.
“I wouldn’t expect it to be [a Geraldine matter],” the mayor said.
“It’s a small town, really feel for any of the local firefighters that were likely called out to the crash. My heart obviously goes out to the families of the victims.”
The nearest property to the crash site is a Park Over Property, where up to 35 campervans and mobile homes park overnight during their commutes.
Owner Sue was woken by her dog barking as red emergency vehicle lights blared through the bedroom window about 40 minutes after the campervan hit the railing.
“I knew fire services were there helping out so they had it covered.”
Out walking her dog in crisp morning daylight, Sue told the Herald that the intersection had a history of crashes due to the nature of the road.
“We tell our campers to be careful at that intersection,” she said.
State Highway 79 has cars travelling in excess of 100km/h. Cars will turn off or into Te Moana Rd and often collide with other vehicles, or lose traction in the process, she said.
She mentioned three significant crashes in the last 18 months right outside her property.
”The road is too fast for a major junction,” she said reflecting on the incidents gone past.
”Of course, it doesn’t seem like that’s what happened with the campervan this morning.
“Traffic will commonly turn on to Te Moana Rd to head for Barkers Factory. It’s unlikely a campervan was headed for this destination either.”
Sue hasn’t taken any further action to council regarding the safety of the road, but admits the circumstances of this morning’s multi-fatal incident are “bizzare”.
Earlier, fire investigators and detectives worked the scene to determine the circumstances of the crash.
Waikato Expressway closed after deadly wrong-way crash
Meanwhile, in the Waikato District, State Highway 1 has been closed between Te Kauwhata to Pōkeno due to serious head-on collision between two cars.
A police spokeswoman confirmed both drivers in each vehicle were pronounced dead at the scene.
Authorities said inquiries are under way into the circumstances of the incident. However, one of the vehicles was travelling the wrong way, police said.
Diversions have been put in place at Rangiriri and Glen Murray.
Motorists are told to expect delays as the road is expected to be closed for some hours.
A police spokeswoman said there is no suggestion that either of the cars were involved in any type of offending prior to the crash.
Sixth fatality in Dargaville crash
A sixth person died in a single-car crash in Northland.
Police said the car involved collided with a tree early this morning. However, an exact time has not been given.
The person killed was the driver and sole occupant of the car.
“Inquiries into the circumstances of the crash are under way and the Serious Crash Unit remains on the scene.
“The road is expected to remain closed for several hours and diversions are in place.”