A man and a woman killed in a head-on collision in the South Island yesterday are believed to be tourists who arrived in the country that morning, Fairfax reports.

The crash happened on State Highway 1 near Dunsandel, about 50km southwest of Christchurch.

The two arrived in New Zealand on Thursday morning, Fairfax said.

Police said the Jucy rental campervan crossed the centre line and was entirely on the wrong side of the road when it collided with a ute. The sole occupant of the ute sustained non-life threatening injuries and was taken to hospital.

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Senior Sergeant Pete Stills told Fairfax the man and the woman were "quite probably foreign nationals" but it was still to be confirmed.

"If you've recently arrived to the country, perhaps sleep is the priority before driving - and being really, really familiar with our road rules," he urged.

Stills said the campervan rounded a corner and crossed the centre line "for some unknown reason".

He said it was a "very sad, tragic consequence".

Police were still working to identify the people and notify their next of kin.

SH1 was closed for five hours yesterday.