You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
Two northbound motorists took evasive action on State Highway 1 yesterday to avoid an oncoming southbound van, seconds before it crashed and came to rest on the wrong side of the highway.
Both motorists said they were shaken by the near-miss after the white Kia van came to rest near the large Waitati sign, on the northbound side of the highway, about 300m south of the turnoff to the Waitati township, about 3.49pm.
The van rolled but the van driver was unhurt, police said.
The Dunedin driver of a northbound stationwagon said the van was approaching at open road speed.
After turning on to the highway beyond the Waitati turnoff, the van apparently went out of control and partly drifted on to the incorrect side.
The man, who asked not to be named, pulled to the far left side of the highway to avoid a collision, and said it had been a near-miss by a matter of metres.
"It was so close. He came right across the road," the motorist said.
Waikouaiti resident Lynne Holden, who was driving her northbound Subaru car behind the station wagon, said the van had been fully on the incorrect side of the highway as it approached her vehicle, and she had made the split-second decision to pull on to the opposite side of the highway to avoid a collision.
Ms Holden (77) said it had been a "miracle" that the near-miss incident had not resulted in death or serious injury.
"It was a shock.
She had been travelling well back behind the stationwagon and had also been driving well below the 100kmh speed limit, and alertness had helped her avoid a crash, she said.
The highway was blocked by the crash, and by responding emergency vehicles, including the Waitati Volunteer Fire Brigade appliance.
A detour was in place via Mt Cargill. One lane of the highway was opened at 4.40pm, and by 5.20pm the highway was fully reopened, a police spokeswoman said.