Easter holiday road toll: Three dead, 13 injured in New Zealand crashes

The holiday weekend has turned to tragedy for loved ones of three people who have died on New Zealand roads so far this Easter.

No one died on our roads last Easter, when the country was in level 4 lockdown to stop the spread of Covid-19.

But with freedom comes a return to the risk of death and injury behind the wheel, as Kiwis make their way around the country for the four-day holiday weekend.

The first to die was a person killed in a crash involving a truck and a car just before 8pm on Thursday on State Highway 27 at Kaihere, in Hauraki.

Three others received moderate injuries, police said.

Eighty minutes later a person died in a crash on SH2 at Mangatāwhiri, north of Hamilton.

And today, a person died at the scene of two-vehicle crash near Whakamaru, about 50km north of Taupō, police said.

After the midday crash, which was at the intersection of SH30 and SH32, one of the vehicles caught fire.

The person who died was the driver of one of the vehicles.

No one else was hurt.

An 80-year-old woman also died on Thursday after she was hit by a car in the North Shore suburb of Forrest Hill, succumbing to her injuries hours after the 8.20am incident.

That meant her death was not included in the Easter road toll because the official holiday period began at 4pm on Thursday and ends at 6am on Tuesday.

Other road users have escaped holiday weekend crashes with their lives, but now begin recovery from their injuries.

Among them are three ambulance officers and a fourth person after a crash between an ambulance and utility vehicle towing a boat on Auckland’s North Shore today.

The ambulance was on its way to a patient and under lights and sirens at the time of the crash, St John territory manager Andrew Everiss said.

The ute wedged the emergency vehicle in the air after striking the driver’s side.

The ambulance officers were taken to North Shore Hospital with moderate and minor injuries, and the person in the ute had minor injuries, after all four were assessed by additional ambulance crews, Everiss said.

A second ambulance was sent to the initial patient after the crash, which was on Constellation Drive in Rosedale at 12.15pm.

Support was being given to those involved, and St John was working with police and had begun its own investigation into the incident.

Five people were also hurt, one critically, after a crash involving two vehicles in the Athenree Gorge, north of Tauranga, just before 11am today.

The critically injured person was taken to Thames Hospital by helicopter. The other four suffered only minor injuries.

One person is in serious condition tonight after a single-vehicle crash on Taipo Rd, Teschemakers, just before 7pm. A rescue helicopter took the car’s occupant to hospital from the scene of the crash, 14km southwest of Oamaru.

Hours into the long weekend, police were already warning motorists heading away on holiday to “take it easy”.

“We urge motorists to be patient, and to not take any unnecessary risks.”

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