A 78-year old local man died in a crash 4km north of Katikati yesterday evening while, in a second crash, an elderly couple were hospitalised with moderate to minor injuries after a two-car crash in the township's main street.
Police said the car crashes, which happened within 5km of each other, were unrelated.
Officers came across the fatal crash moments after it happened near Kauri Point Rd on State Highway 2 at 6.14pm yesterday. The man died at the scene.
Police had been on their way to the two-vehicle crash on the main street of the town, which happened at 5.51pm outside the Katikati library.
Waihi Fire Station officer Brendan Gibbs said a blue ute was travelling north when it passed another car turning into Kauri Point Rd when a silver sedan pulled out on to State Highway 2 and the two vehicles collided.
The silver car buckled upon impact, he said. "It [the car] was bent like a banana."
He said the deceased might have had a medical condition.
"He may have been unconscious when he crossed the road."
CPR was performed on the elderly man for about 30 minutes but, despite attempts at resuscitation, he died at the scene of the accident.
Highway patrol sergeant Mike Owen said they were unsure why the elderly man crossed the middle of the road.
"The silver car appeared from somewhere and struck the passenger side of the blue car, which resulted in the elderly man dying.
"At this stage, we are still determining cause of death."
Mr Owen said the driver of the blue ute was driving cautiously in the wet conditions.
Traffic on State Highway 2 between Athenree and Katikati near Kauri Point Rd was diverted for several hours last night while the serious crash unit investigated the fatality.
The two crashes, which happened within minutes of each other, stretched the resources of the volunteer Katikati Fire Brigade, St John Ambulance staff and attending police.
Tauranga police Acting Senior Sergeant Craig Madden said it was initially thought that one of the people injured in the other crash had suffered life-threatening injuries.
But the person's injuries were less serious than first thought, and both patients' conditions were downgraded to moderate to minor injuries, he said.
A Tauranga Hospital spokesman said a 56-year-old woman and 57-year-old man from Katikati were in a stable condition last night.
The first two crashes came on the heels of a three-vehicle crash between two cars and a small truck on SH2 between Te Karaka Drive and Munro Rd at about 3pm yesterday.
One witness said they saw three vehicles in a ditch, another reported seeing one vehicle on its side and the road was partially blocked for some time.
Traffic was banked up on State Highway 2 between Te Puna and Omokoroa for more than an hour.
Western Bay of Plenty road policing manager Senior Sergeant Ian Campion said one person was attended to by ambulance staff at the scene.
Police are looking for witnesses to the fatal crash.