21 Aug 2009

Road closure disrupts holidaymakers' plans

4:06 pm on 21 August 2009

Dozens of holidaymakers in central Otago have had to spend an unexpected extra night in the area after a crash closed the Lindis Pass.

Eight people were injured in the collision between a car and a campervan on Thursday night.

A New Zealand man, who was driving the car, was in critical condition in Christchurch hospital on Friday.

The Spanish driver of the campervan and another New Zealand man are in stable condition. Four others have been discharged from hospital with minor injuries.

Police and fire crews were called to the accident scene just before 8pm. St John Ambulance said five of its crews from surrounding areas also attended.

Holidaymakers packed hotels and motels in Omarama on Thursday night, after SH8 was closed to traffic near Tinburn Road, while others travelled to Twizel or took SH85 out of the area.

Some guests slept on the floor of the Omarama Hotel. Heritage Gateway Hotel manager Jason Marshall says some of the 35 guests who spent an unexpected night there complained they were not warned earlier that the road was impassable nor told when it would reopen.

Sergeant Ian Kerrisk in Alexandra says large neon signs just outside the Omarama township were activated on Thursday night, warning people of the road closure, but some people have ignored the signs.

Both lanes of the Lindis Pass road are open to all traffic on Friday afternoon.

Police said on Thursday they were not yet sure what caused the crash but were using interpreters to interview the occupants of the campervan.