An 18-year-old female and a 47-year-old male have died following a head-on collision south of Whanganui.

Three passengers were left in a serious condition.

Police and emergency services were called to the scene at 4.50am on SH3 between Pauri Road and Marangai Road where a ute and a car collided.

The female was the driver of one vehicle and the male was the driver of the other vehicle.

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Three passengers, who survived the crash, had to be cut from the wreckage by fire services.

Two were transported from the scene by ambulance to Whanganui Hospital Prior to the arrival of the Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter.

The third patient, a Whanganui man in his 20's, was airlifted to Palmerston North Hospital with serious head and leg injuries.

State Highway 3 at Kaitoke is expected to be closed for some time as the Police Serious crash unit carries out an investigation into the cause of the crash.

Motorists have been advised by Police to expect delays.