Pleas for seatbelts, safety improvements after fatal three-vehicle crash near Pūkaki

A dream trip to Queenstown soon turned fatal for two Malaysian students from Canterbury University in a three-vehicle crash near Pūkaki on Saturday.

A motorcyclist also died and three others were injured.

It was one of two accidents in 90 minutes on State Highway 8. Ten people were injured in the other one, near Aoraki-Mt Cook.

State Highway 8 isn't short of picture-perfect views. Unfortunately, it's not short of deadly stretches of road either.

"The number of cars and visitors and campervans on the road has just exploded," local resident Marie Maker told Newshub.

"There's near-misses on a daily basis so there's nothing new as far as that goes," Pūkaki Ward councillor Scott Aronson added.

One of Saturday's victims was a motorcyclist travelling on the Tekapo-Twizel Road.

Malaysia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed overnight the two others were international students at the University of Canterbury.

They are Megat Ashman Aqif Megat Irman Jefni and Wan Nur Adlina Alisa.

"Our hearts go out to those families involved in this because the last thing we want to see is accidents through the Mackenzie at this time of year," Aronson said.

The pair were travelling with three others, who were all airlifted to Christchurch Hospital with a range of injuries.

A sister of one of the survivors posted on X - sharing that the group were on their way to Queenstown.

"I live opposite the St John and fire station so once that alarm goes I can see what's going on pretty quick. St John were first out the door when the alarm went up, they were up the road pretty quick. Followed by the fire boys," Aronson said.

The triple fatality is raising questions about State Highway 8. Waka Kotahi says more than 40 major crashes have taken place here in the 10 years leading up to 2020.

Maker believes there are plenty of dangerous spots.

"It's on a curve, and it's on a rise. You've got cars coming both ways, as well as cars coming out of that corner," she told Newshub.

"Land Transport need to take a look around those high-density areas, especially around Lake Pūkaki, round Tekapo where there's viewing places," Aronson said.

"They've got to have a look at those areas and think 'are these set up the best they can be?'"

Newshub spoke to one of the first responders who arrived at the scene yesterday.

The volunteer firefighter wouldn't speak on camera - but had one strong message: Wear your seatbelts.

"Stay focused. and take your time. Don't be in a hurry because if you pass that car there's going to be another car in front of it," Aronson said.

"Expect long lines of traffic, especially with the number of people coming back from the airshow and Queenstown and the like."

An investigation into what caused the triple-fatal crash is ongoing.