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Driver error appears to be a factor in the fatal head-on collision in the Lindis Pass on Thursday.
Police have not released the name of the 23-year-old man who died in the crash.
Sergeant Mike Williams, of Cromwell, said the dead man was a front-seat passenger in a rental car.
While police had spoken to his next of kin, no details apart from his age would be released until the family had more time to contact other relatives.
A crash investigator's analysis of the accident scene had determined the rental car had crossed the centre line of the road, Sgt Williams said.
"The collision was a result of the vehicle hitting gravel on the left-hand side of the road on a corner, before veering across the centre line," he said.
The car, which was travelling south on State Highway 6 about 500m down from the Lindis Pass summit, slammed into an oncoming four-wheel-drive vehicle.
The 23-year-old male driver of the rental car was in a serious condition in the Dunedin Hospital intensive care unit yesterday, Sgt Williams said.
Police hoped to interview him within the next three days.
"There is no indications at this stage that speed was a factor in the accident."
The 4WD's two occupants - a married couple, of Dunedin - were transferred to Dunedin Hospital by rescue helicopter for treatment.
The injured woman is pregnant and sustained serious injuries in the crash.
Police had not yet taken any statements from the couple and would not release any details about them, Sgt Williams said.