The family of a young Australian student injured in a horror crash that killed two people near Rotorua are keeping a vigil at his hospital bedside.
The 16-year-old boy, whose name has not been released, is in the intensive care unit at Waikato Hospital where his condition was yesterday described as serious.
The Herald understands the boy's parents flew from their North Queensland home to be with their son but they requested privacy and are focusing on his recovery.
The boy was among several people from the Noosa Pengari Steiner School who were in New Zealand on a seven-day hiking trip who were injured in the accident that claimed the lives of his classmate Gabriel Runge, 16, and their teacher Andre Vogel.
The van Mr Vogel was driving and a Fonterra milk tanker collided about 4.30pm on Friday on State Highway 5 near Reporoa.
Police are continuing their investigation in to the accident. Earlier they said it appeared the van carrying the group had crossed the centreline.
The Sunshine Coast Daily said the school community was trying to support one another through the tragedy.
Noosa Pengari Steiner School Friends Facebook page creator Suzannah Pritchard-Laborie, a parent of one of Gabriel Runge's classmates, paid tribute to Gabriel and to Mr Vogel, a father of two.
"Our son left school three years ago to home school but was still in contact with Gabby," she said. "This child was the most open-hearted, kind kid who would never say a bad word about anybody. He was such a gentle soul."
Ms Pritchard-Laborie said Mr Vogel would take the Steiner school students on mountainbike rides and have picnics on her property.
Her son, like many others, was still coming to terms with the loss of a friend he had known for many years.
She said they were part of an extremely close-knit community and hundreds of posts to Gabriel's Facebook profile from friends pouring out their grief had been made private at the request of his family.
The newspaper said it understood a vigil would be held for the pair this week but the school did not wish to publicise details.
A spokesperson for Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade would not confirm whether the two bodies had been repatriated.
It's understood most of the group returned to Australia yesterday.