Two people remain in a serious condition in Waikato Hospital following a fatal crash on State Highway 5 - while a third has been transferred there from Rotorua Hospital.

Rotorua police have not yet released the name of the person killed in the head-on collision and are now asking for witnesses to come forward.

The crash happened on State Highway 5 about 5km south of Rotorua near Tumunui about 4.45pm yesterday and involved three cars.

One person died while two were taken to Waikato Hospital and three to Rotorua Hospital. Two people were left with critical injuries.

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A Rotorua Hospital spokesperson of the three taken there, one man in his 30s was transferred to Waikato Hospital late last night.

Another man, in his 20s, was discharged last night and a third patient, a young man, remains in Rotorua Hospital in a stable condition.

A Waikato Hospital spokesperson said a man and woman were in the hospital's High Dependency Unit in serious conditions while the man transferred from Rotorua was in the Emergency Department and was still being assessed.

In a statement, Rotorua police said they would like to hear from witnesses to the crash, or anybody who saw the driving of the vehicles beforehand.

The vehicles involved were a bronze coloured Nissan Murano travelling north and two southbound cars - a white Nissan Pulsar and a dark blue Mazda Axela.

The road was closed and diversions were in place until about 8.30pm.

The Trustpower TECT Rescue Helicopter flew a 58-year-old Rotorua woman to Waikato Hospital with pelvic, chest and abdominal injuries and her husband was flown by the Taupo-based Greenlea Rescue Helicopter to Waikato Hospital.

The remaining victims were taken to Rotorua Hospital by St John Ambulance.

A witness told the Rotorua Daily Post she was following a car that was drifting across the road. She said she started honking the horn to warn the driver.

The crash happened soon after.

Anyone with information is asked to call Rotorua police on (07) 349 9400.

Alternatively, you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on (0800) 555 111.