Two people died when a car and a truck collided near Culverden in North Canterbury this morning.
The crash happened about 8am on Mouse Point Road, State Highway 7, just north of Culverden.
The driver of the truck was not hurt, but the car was so severely damaged that it took the police most of the day to confirm how many people were inside.
Police said a scene examination had been completed and the road was now open.
They have appealed for anyone who witnessed the crash, or helped at the scene, to come forward.
The highway is the alternative to SH1, which is still blocked by slips near Kaikōura, brought down in November's earthquake.
It is currently the main route from Picton to Christchurch.
Traffic is much heavier on the road than before the earthquake and many more heavy freight trucks are using it.
The Serious Crash Unit is investigating the crash.