Army medics pitched in to help rescue services after a nasty head-on smash near their base outside Christchurch this afternoon.
Three people were trapped after two cars collided near Burnham Military Camp on State Highway 1 about 1.30pm.
Police say initial enquiries indicate that a rental car travelling north, with a sole female occupant aged in her 70s, drifted across the centre line into the path of a southbound rental car, believed to have been occupied by two French tourists.
Firefighters had to cut all three people out of the two severely damaged cars.
The army medics rushed to the scene to help until St John paramedics arrived, a Fire Service spokesman said.
The tourists were airlifted to Christchurch Hospital with serious injuries in two helicopters. They are now said to be in a stable condition.
The passenger in the southbound vehicle was taken to hospital by ambulance. She too is in a stable condition.
The serious crash unit has arrived and SH1 is closed, with diversions down Burnham School Rd.
Police hope to clear SH1 before 5pm.