One man is dead and another is in Tauranga Hospital in a critical condition after a car hit a tree in Te Puke township last night.
Sergeant Rob Glencross said a "youngish" man died at the scene and his male front seat passenger, who was also trapped inside their vehicle for a time, was taken to Tauranga Hospital in a critical condition.
The vehicle, which had been travelling along Jellicoe St, left the road shortly after 6pm and struck a large tree nearby, he said.
Six police patrol cars and at least two fire appliance and two St John crews attended the crash.
A police cordon was in place for several hours between Dunlop Rd and Atuaroa Ave, and traffic heading towards Te Puke was diverted down Atuaroa Ave.
Mr Glencross said the cordon was needed while the Serious Crash Unit completed a scene examination, including taking photographs and clearing any debris.
Mr Glencross said it was "too early to speculate" on the exact cause of the crash, and he declined to say where the two men were believed to be heading when their vehicle left the road.
Police inquiries were ongoing, he said.
"No matter what the cause is this is another tragedy as you can see the road is dry and nothing about the road would indicate why this tragedy happened," Mr Glencross said.
Grieving family members at the scene were too distraught to talk, other than one woman who told the newspaper she was off to Tauranga Hospital to check on her critically-injured relative.
Mr Glencross said an extended family member had blessed the scene, and Victim Support staff also attended to offer their support and comfort.