A motorcyclist who collided with a school bus south of Whangarei was flown to the Middlemore Hospital with spinal injuries.

The crash happened about 3pm yesterday at the intersection of Cove Rd and McLean Rd in Waipu.

Constable Trevor Millard of Maungaturoto said early investigations revealed the male motorcyclist was overtaking a car when he collided with the bus.

The man landed in a ditch and was comforted by passers-by before emergency services arrived.

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It is believed the bus was heading towards Mangawhai Heads and the motorcycle was travelling in the opposite direction when the accident happened on a bend. Neither the bus driver nor the students on board were injured.

St John's acting district operations manager Northland, Wally Mitchell, said an ambulance from Bream Bay attended to the injured motorcyclist before he was flown to Auckland in a moderate condition with spinal injuries.

Motorist Gina O'Shea was returning to Whangarei when she came across the accident minutes after it happened. She said the motorcyclist was being comforted by a police officer and locals.

Firefighters from Waipu helped with traffic control and in setting up a landing site for the helicopter.

The police commercial vehicle inspection unit is investigating the crash.