There were lengthy delays for motorists on Rotorua's east side yesterday caused first by resealing works on Te Ngae Rd, then a two-vehicle crash at the Whakatane turnoff.
Eight people were taken to hospital following the crash between a car and van at the intersection of State Highways 30 and 33 about 6.15pm. The city-bound lane was blocked for some time, with traffic diversions in place.
St John acting Lakes area territorial manager Leisa Tocknell said three patients were taken to hospital with moderate injuries and five were taken with minor injuries.
She said seven of the patients were from the van and one was from the car.
Fire northern communications shift manager Colin Underdown said one person had to be extricated from the van.
The crash followed delays earlier in the day due to roadworks along State Highway 30/Te Ngae Rd.
The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) last night apologised for the lengthy delays experienced by drivers - admitting they got it wrong.
NZTA was resealing the entire road between Rotoma and Rotorua as well as the road between Rotokawa and Rotorua.
"The NZTA apologises to drivers for the lengthy delays experienced today during roadworks on SH30, just north of the Rotorua Airport," NZTA journey manager Nigel D'Ath said in a written statement.
He said Te Ngae Rd was a tricky site as there were no local off-roads to detour traffic on to during roadworks.
"Delays of between 10 and 15 minutes were expected and advised via the Transport Agency's weekly traffic bulletin and other channels, however we have had feedback that some drivers were held up by more than half an hour.
"When planning the work we realised there could be a larger than normal impact on motorists due to the site, so we started work earlier, at 5.30am, and used additional staff and resources so we could complete the main carriageway work by 2pm, before the peak afternoon traffic period."
He said work was also halted during peak times to reduce the queues.
"We work hard to plan ahead and minimise delays to motorists when we carry out roadworks and most of the time we get it right. In this case, unfortunately, we didn't.
"We would like to apologise to people for the inconvenience caused by the delays.
"We will review the work and delays with our contractor so we can take the lessons learnt into future resealing works," Mr D'Ath said.
A motorist spoken to by the Rotorua Daily Post said she was delayed by more than half an hour when driving into the city to work.
Unzo Hona commented on the Rotorua Daily Post Facebook page that she'd had "a half-hour wait in the hot sun. I feel sorry for people with kids having to be stuck".
Natalie Dixon, spokeswoman for NZTA, said that although the works on Te Ngae Rd finished yesterday, work would be under way on the State Highway 23 Sun Valley curves today and people travelling through should allow an extra 10 minutes.
Mr D'Ath said summer was the best time to reseal roads, as the warm temperatures and dry air helped the new seal to stick to the existing road surface.
"We know roadworks can be a bit of a headache for motorists, but resealing the roads keeps people safe on our highways," he said.
Mr D'Ath said the work crews would be focussed on reducing delays where they could, and on some high volume traffic areas the work would be done overnight.
"We also limit works during holiday periods including Christmas, New Year, anniversary weekends and Waitangi weekend," he said.
He said drivers were likely to encounter speed restrictions and other traffic management at roadwork sites over the next few months, and should get into the habit of allowing extra time for their journeys.
Mr D'Ath said checking out the NZTA website before packing up the car could help people choose the best routes and times to travel.
"Picking up your mouse or your smartphone before you pick up your keys and planning your journey could save you a lot stress and unnecessary time on the road," Mr D'Ath said.