The holiday road toll has risen to eight, after an elderly woman died in hospital overnight.
The 77-year-old woman crashed near Oamaru on Wednesday and suffered multiple fractures.
Her death follows a crash on New Year's morning near Motueka, where a van driver became the first road victim of 2016.
National road policing manager Superintendent Steve Greally said the preliminary annual 2015 road told of 321 deaths - the highest since 2010 - was far too high.
"We're talking about people who have been killed or died as a result of injuries received in a road crash," he said.
"They're more than just a statistic. These are people who have left loved ones behind, and it's the families and friends who are left to carry the pain and devastation of fatal crashes."
He reminded motorists to be alert to changing weather conditions as rain moves through the upper North Island.
Associate Transport Minister Craig Foss says 30 percent of the contributing factors to a fatal road crash is speeding, 29 percent alcohol and drugs, 20 percent unrestrained occupants and 8 percent driver distraction.
Mr Foss says this years' road toll "It's incredibly sad and disappointing".
The official holiday period runs from 4pm on December 24 and ends at 6am on January 5.
3 News / NZN