Thirty-three people were on board a tourist bus yesterday evening when it crashed down a bank near Akaroa after a collision with a car.
St John Ambulance Controller Sean Lester said two people with critical injuries had been rushed to Christchurch Hospital ED by chopper.
Another person with serious injuries was flown to hospital in another helicopter and four more who were also seriously hurt were taken to Christchurch Hospital via road ambulance.
An eighth person with moderate injuries was also taken to hospital in an ambulance.
The remaining 26 occupants of the vehicles involved - who either had minor or no injuries - were taken to Akaroa Fire Station on another bus for paramedics to assess them.
It is believed the passengers were from the cruise ship Celebrity Solstice which was due to dock in the Akaroa Harbour yesterday.
Firefighters reportedly had to cut one person from the car and the bus driver out of the wreckage.
Police say the bus and the car collided just after 5pm and the bus ended up down a bank near the intersection of Summit Rd and the Christchurch-Akaroa Rd.
Emergency services workers told a reporter 33 people were on board when it went off the side of the road near the Hilltop Tavern.
Camera operator Matthew Simons said yesterday he could see the bus about 50m down the bank and a blue wagon-like Toyota on the road.
Firefighters had to use the jaws of life to cut the roof off the car.
Debris from the smash was strewn on the road and the front of the car was mangled.
Pieces of the car were lined up on the side of the road, resting on a bank.
Photos from the scene also showed the wreckage of the bus lying on its side among the foliage.
People could be seen scrambling to get to the bus to help.
A crowd had gathered at the police cordon around the next bend in the road.
A staff member at the tavern told the Herald he took water to the victims.
A Fire Service spokesman said multiple fire appliances from Akaroa and Christchurch city went to the scene.
The Christchurch-Akaroa Rd was closed last night between Summit Rd and Barry's Bay Rd.
Fairfax reported that the tourists on board the bus were cruise ship passengers, believed to have been visiting New Zealand on the Celebrity Solstice vessel.
The ship has capacity for 2850 passengers and 1250 crew members. It was expected to dock at Akaroa Harbour yesterday.
Tragedy has struck Celebrity Solstice on New Zealand roads three times in the last few months.
A Canadian passenger from the ship, Celebrity Solstice, was severely injured when he was hit by a campervan while cycling waith his partner on Otago Peninsula last week.
He has since made a miraculous recovery.
An elderly American woman who was on board a November sailing was killed while riding a bike in Tauranga the day the ship arrived in the city. The 71-year-old was struck by a truck near the harbour bridge.
The same afternoon a bus carrying passengers from the same ship collided with a car on State Highway 29. The car's driver died after the crash. No one on the bus was injured.