Fatal Coromandel crash

One person has died after a crash on the Coromandel Peninsula tonight - the first fatality of the Queen's Birthday weekend holiday road toll period.

Motorists heading towards Whitianga this evening are being told to expect significant delays following the head on collision at Whenuakite.

Emergency services were called to the scene of the crash on SH25 about 6.30pm, District Road Policing Manager, Inspector Freda Grace, said.

Initial indications were that a campervan collided head on with a 4x4 vehicle, resulting in one person travelling as a passenger in the 4x4 losing their life, she said.

"The driver of the 4x4 suffered serious injuries and has been flown to Auckland Hospital by helicopter while the two occupants of the campervan have been taken by ambulance to Thames Hospital."

Mrs Grace said it is expected SH25 into Whitianga would be closed for at least four hours, however motorists could still access Cooks Beach and Hahei.

"North bound traffic is being diverted off on to the Tapu-Coroglen Rd to allow access into Whitianga from Coromandel.

With the official holiday period only three hours old this tragedy really brings home the need for drivers to ensure both they, and their vehicles are fit for the road.

"With rain forecast its really important people drive to the conditions to ensure we all make it through to Monday."

The Serious Crash Unit would be conducting an investigation into what caused the crash.

The death was the fourth on North Island roads in around 24 hours.

The two 23-year-old men killed in a crash in Northland early this morning were promising rugby stars, the manager of their rugby club says.

Vern Samuels and Ryan Wikaira were both killed after their sedan lost control on SH10 near Kaeo about 12.15am and collided with an oncoming ute after clipping the trailer of a truck.

Both men played for Kaeo Rugby Club, and club president Allan Martin said two were "very exciting rugby players" who had been with the club for years.

"I think it's such a shock to everybody what's happened. We're just trying to comprehend it."

He said the club had not reached out to the families of the players yet, and were giving them space for the moment.

A third passenger in the sedan and the driver of the ute were both transferred to Bay of Islands Hospital with minor injuries. The driver of the truck was uninjured.

Family, friends and members of the Kaeo community took to social media to show support and give their condolences.

"Lost two boys that I have known since I was in primary. Feeling really broken at the moment sending my love and condolences to the Stewart-Wikaira whanau and to the Samuels whanau," said Valerie Watson.

"Utmost condolences going out 2 Uncle Vern Samuels and Wikaira Whanau, for the loss of two very young men, tragically taken.. much luv & Strength 2 our Whanau at this tragic time," Beckz Puru said.

The Bay of Islands Rugby Union also offered its support to the families of the two players and their club.

"Kaeo has lost two promising young rugby players in a car accident last night. Vern Samuels and Ryan Wikaira were both players who came through the grades of the club. Our condolences to both families and the Kaeo rugby club."

Investigations are still underway as to the cause of the crash, and police are working with the families of the two men and the other drivers involved.

Northland road policing manager Inspector Murray Hodson said damp road surfaces and light rain may have contributed to the crash.

Last night, eight-year-old Jasnoor Kaur, of Katikati, was killed in a three-car collision on SH29 in the Kaimai Ranges.

Six others were taken to hospital, including a 5-year-old and a 12-year-old, both in a critical condition.

Inspector Hodson said it was important to remember to wear seatbelts and drive cautiously this Queen's Birthday weekend.

"That's a clear message. Drive to the conditions, because not all 100km/h roads are built to do 100km/h, more so especially in rural communities."

A reduced 4km/h threshold will be in place from 4pm on Friday until 6am on Tuesday. Police say they will have highly visible presence on roads across the country.

Assistant Commissioner of Road Policing Dave Cliff said while police would be doing everything in their power this holiday weekend, passengers, friends and family could also directly influence driver behaviour by helping them to make the right choices.

"Even if you're not driving, you can play your part -- whether it's by not letting a mate drive drunk, by wearing your own safety belt, or speaking up in the car when you see speeding or other unsafe behaviour."

Last year, there were no reported road deaths on Queen's Birthday Weekend, and police are urging road users to follow basic road safety advice and strive for the same result this year.

- By Mohamed Hassan and APNZ staff

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