Five dead in 'horrendous' Waikato crash

Five people have died in a "horrendous" two-vehicle crash near Te Awamutu in the Waikato.

Police confirmed the deaths this evening, saying three occupants of one vehicle, and two occupants of the other vehicle died at the scene.

Emergency services were alerted to the crash about 4.45pm.

"This is a tragic incident. To lose five lives in these circumstances is heartbreaking, and our thoughts go out to all the families affected," Waikato road policing manager Inspector Jeff Penno said.

The Serious Crash Unit was at the scene and the road was expected to be shut until at least midnight.

"There is a large scene we need to work through and our priority at the moment is understanding what has occurred to cause this tragedy.

"We are also making sure that support is provided to those who need it," Inspector Penno said.

"Emergency services are here working through it, making sure we collect all the evidence, ... and trying to establish what has happened at this horrendous crash," Penno said earlier in a video interview with Stuff.

He said evidence would be collected while still maintaining respect for those who had died.

Penno confirmed it was a head-on crash.

"This is a high-volume road and at that time of day it is quite busy but we understand the conditions to be dry and the weather was fine although it would have been getting dark," he told The New Zealand Herald.

Penno said it appeared it was not environmental factors that caused the crash.

The stretch of road where the crash happened was not deemed to be high-risk.

Once the serious crash unit had completed the collection of evidence, the bodies and the vehicles would be removed from the scene and would be treated "with the respect that they deserve".

The crash occurred on State Highway 3 / Ōhaupō Rd just before 4.45pm.

Ohaupo Rd is closed between Jary Rd and Ngaroto Rd and motorists are asked to avoid the area.