Deadly start to holiday weekend

The first long-weekend fatality on the country's roads was probably caused by tourists in a campervan crossing the centre line, police say.

One person died when the 4WD they were a passenger in was smashed into by a campervan on State Highway 25 near Whenuakito on the Coromandel Peninsula last evening.

The 4WD's driver suffered serious injuries and was flown by helicopter to Auckland's Middlemore Hospital, while two overseas tourists in the campervan were treated at Thames Hospital for minor injuries.

They had since been released and the Waikato police serious crash unit was now investigating, but police say initial indications are the south-bound campervan crossed the centre line into the other vehicle's path.

Today police are saying the death highlights the importance of driving to the conditions - at the time of the crash the road was wet and light drizzle was falling.

"The crash happened about 6.30pm and both vehicles were in the north-bound land when it happened," district road policing manager Freda Grace said.

SH25 was closed for more than six hours and despite publicity warning of delays, huge numbers of motorists queued for hours waiting for the road to re-open.

"Emergency services are always conscious of the impact clearing the scene and establishing what has occurred has on other travellers and we advised via the media diversions were in place via the Tapu-Coroglen Rd.

"Given the nature of the terrain however, radio reception may not be too good while travelling in the Coromandel and we would advise motorists to check for any delays before heading out through traffic advisory services or newswire applications on their computer and phone devices," Mrs Grace said.

She said the crash was a reminder for drivers to take care on the roads and think about their fitness to drive.

"What we're talking about is ensuring you are fit and attentive behind the wheel, if you've had a hard day before heading out consider taking a rest first - it could easily save your life.

"Likewise, is your vehicle, caravan and boat trailer fit to be on the roads, is it registered, have a warrant of fitness and sufficient tyre tread to enable you to react in case you or the other guy makes a mistake?"


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