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Sergeant Tracy Haggart, of Queenstown, said police were called to the Arrow River just after 1pm on Monday after a 4WD landed on its roof, having toppled about 1.5m from an embankment, about 4m away from a family playing in the river.
The driver of the Hilux and two other passengers escaped unharmed.
The vehicle was one of two which had driven into Macetown and was on the return journey when it tumbled down the embankment to land on its roof in the river, close to where members of the family from Wellington, including two children aged 13 and 5, were playing.
They were unharmed.
Constable Feleki Uhrle said the vehicle was towed out of the river and impounded because the driver was disqualified.
''Because it [the river] is open to the public and people are driving up and down ... it's deemed a public road.''
The driver is expected to appear in the Queenstown District Court on Monday.