One person died and two others were injured after two cars collided near Paparoa yesterday. One of the crashed vehicles caught fire.

The crash happened on State Highway 12 near Paparoa, 45km northwest of Wellsford, at about 2.15pm yesterday.

One person suffered serious injuries and another was moderately injured.

The Northland Rescue Helicopter flew the injured to Whangarei Hospital.

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A witness said there was a long queue of traffic including large trucks on State Highway 12.

State Highway 12 was closed while the Serious Crash Unit investigated.

Traffic was diverted from SH12 through to SH1 via Paparoa-Oakleigh Rd, Paparoa Rd and Mangapai Rd.

Police warned motorists to expect delays of three hours.

The latest death brings Northland's March road toll to five, higher than the three people killed in the same month last year. The road toll is 14 for the year, compared to eight at the same time last year.

A man was killed after a crash in Hikurangi on March 9. Two German tourists were killed at Kaeo on March 10 and a woman who was critically injured after a single-vehicle crash in Ruakaka also on March 10, later died in hospital.