Heavy fog across the central North Island hindered attempts to rescue a man critically injured when his car hit a horse on a remote road at the top of the East Cape this morning.
A woman also suffered moderate injuries in the crash, which happened about 1.30am on State Highway 35 near Te Araroa.
St John Ambulance communications centre manager Norm Ngaitai said helicopters as far away as Hamilton were contacted but the fog stopped them taking off.
"The weather conditions on the way to the incident weren't favourable at all, and it was a bit touch and go," Mr Ngaitai said.
"But certainly, as they were getting closer to the incident, it was the weather that forced them to turn back to Gisborne."
An off duty paramedic eventually travelled from Ruatoria, and an ambulance drove two hours from Gisborne to take the man back to Gisborne Hospital.
Further north, a 33-year old woman died following a crash north-east of Whanganui at about 1am.
The 22-year-old male driver is in a critical condition and is in Whanganui Hospital.
A police spokesperson said it appeared the driver lost control of the car and hit a tree.