Four of the seven people taken to Hawke's Bay Hospital after a head-on collision on Waimarama Rd on Saturday remain in a stable condition.

A van, believed to be carrying German visitors travelling towards Hastings, collided with a car near the corner of Waimarama and Ocean Beach Rds at 7.10pm after the van veered to the wrong side of the road.

Nearby resident Waikau Akonga was first on the scene and said several injured but conscious people were lying on the road.

They were soon surrounded by about 100 onlookers as heavy traffic returning from Waimarama and Ocean beaches ground to a halt.


Two rescue helicopters and three ambulances ferried the injured to hospital.

Incident controller Mike Manning said fire crews were "disgusted" with bystanders' lack of patience with the closed road, who "obstructed us and impeded our operations".

"It was very disappointing they didn't have enough fortitude to recognise the scene was as highly charged as it was, and we needed to do some rapid work with the extrication and the treatment of the patients who were very unwell."

Mr Akonga said he had lived on the corner his whole life, and attending accidents was a "ritual" for him and neighbours - but none had been fatal so far.

Many were due to people overtaking at a blind spot. The addition this year of double-yellow lines to the stretch of road where the accident happened had not curbed the practice.

When he heard the collision he assumed it was because of an overtaking manoeuvre but, because it was a collision he estimated at 70km/h, he believed "those Germans just thought they were back in their own country and just got on the wrong side of the road".