Road toll skyrockets after disastrous few days in NZ

Thirteen people have died and nearly 20 others have been seriously injured after a disastrous 72 hours on the road.

A two-car crash near Taupō on Tuesday afternoon saw four people killed and another eight injured, including a 10-month-old baby.

So far 297 people have died on the road this year - more than 40 ahead of this time last year.

Superintendent Steve Greally, the National Road Policing Manager, told Newshub it's been "carnage" on the road.

"It's incredibly frustrating and incredibly sad. You've got to bear a thought for the families who are now without loved ones at the drop of a hat," he said.

"There was no warning. These people had lives, had friends and futures and families and all of that, but it's just been ripped apart because someone, somewhere along the chain, has made a really bad decision."

While the recent crashes are still being investigated, Supt Greally said the issue is often people not driving to the conditions, or drinking before getting behind the wheel.

Another big issue is that people aren't wearing their seatbelts, he said. The number of people who weren't wearing one and died has doubled over the past two years.

"People make mistakes and... if you have a crash, if you've got your seatbelt on, you've got a much better chance of walking away with your life."

This series of crashes has come at the mid-way point of the school holidays. With Labour Weekend still coming up, police are worried that this could be a sign of more to come.

Last year, three people died in fatal crashes during Labour Weekend, two fewer than the year before.

"Unfortunately people are eager to get on their holidays and they don't have a rest before they take out their car and go. Fatigue kills as well," Supt Greally said.

"Who knows what's going to happen. It's almost like we need a special calculator just to add up how many people have gone in the last 48 hours. It's just horrific."