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Ten Chinese tourists, including their Chinese driver, waited for up to an hour in freezing temperatures after the driver of the 20-seater bus they were in lost control in snow and ploughed up a bank on the Haast-Makarora Rd about 15km north of Makarora on Tuesday night.
They were travelling from Queenstown to Fox Glacier.
Lake Hawea Volunteer Brigade Chief Fire Officer Brent Arthur said the initial call came over the emergency scanner as a rolled bus which left his crew expecting the worst.
''We were gearing up for the worst-case scenario, but when we arrived it wasn't as bad as first thought and you don't mind when that happens.''
A ''good couple of inches'' of snow had only started to settle near the crash site when emergency services arrived, Mr Arthur said.
Shortly after the accident the road was closed due to snow. It reopened at 11am yesterday.
No-one was injured but the tourists and their driver were left shaken and cold, he said.
There were fears the bus, which was on 45-degree angle, would roll completely over, so all the passengers had left the vehicle.
Emergency services from Makarora, Lake Hawea and Wanaka were called to the accident scene.
Mr Arthur said the group was happy if slightly embarrassed about their situation when his crew arrived.
''They were extremely pleased for us to turn up and they were quite apologetic, but we would always much rather come to that than what we thought it might be.''
The tourists were taken back to the Lake Hawea Fire Station to warm up before being taken to Wanaka Hotel where they spent the night.
A police spokeswoman said no charges had been at laid against the driver at this stage and it was not known if they would be.