One person suffered serious head and chest injuries after a ute crashed into a ditch in Waikato this afternoon.

Emergency services were called to State Highway 26, about 3km north of Te Aroha, after the crash at 2.20pm.

A Waikato Westpac Rescue Helicopter spokeswoman said a southbound ute had failed to take a turn and crashed into a culvert.

The chopper landed on the highway, which was closed as the police serious crash unit investigated. A diversion was put in place via Rawhiti Rd.

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"While the driver sustained only minor injuries, the passenger, who was restrained, sustained head, chest and abdominal injuries, and had to be flown to Waikato Hospital for treatment," the spokeswoman said.

"The helicopter was necessitated due to the sheer force of the crash, and the fact that it was an older vehicle, without airbags."