Three couples have been injured in a head-on crash on the Coromandel Peninsula, one seriously.

Five of them suffered moderate injuries and one woman was in a serious condition.

The Westpac Rescue helicopter was called to the crash on State Highway 25 between Whitianga and Tairua at 2.45pm and flew two of the injured to Waikato Hospital.

Four others were taken by ambulance, Westpac Rescue paramedic Chris Deacon said.


"It appears that one of the vehicles was on the wrong side of the road,'' he said.

Nearby residents reported long traffic queues as people tried to get to Whitianga for the annual scallop festival.

Fire crews from Whitianga were called to the scene and used cutting equipment to free two trapped people.

Fire Service northern communications shift manager Jaron Phillips said staff were at the scene until after 5pm to clean up and make sure the it was safe.

Ruth Harris, 75, who was house-sitting for a friend on Mill Creek Road, Whitianga, said: "I heard the rescue helicopter come in and out, it was a really serious crash from what I have heard. The crash happened quite near town and the traffic was backed up all afternoon down the main road, it caused loads of chaos.''

Neighbour Neil Fortune was caught in the traffic jam for 45 minutes.

"It was a big crash in quite a rural location. We were stuck in traffic for ages and I heard it was quite a bad. The red car was so badly mashed up you couldn't tell what make it was.''

Senior Sergeant Graham Shields of Thames-Coromandel police said Whitianga was expecting a large influx of people this weekend for the annual scallop festival.

"We've done a lot of planning to make this a safe weekend for everyone and an accident like this so early in the weekend is an unpleasant reminder that it's still up to motorists themselves to do the right thing. Slow down, wear your seatbelt, don't drink and drive, have a rest if you are tired.''