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A Wairoa man who lay injured in a ditch unseen by passing motorists for up to two hours after a car crash is now recovering in Hawke's Bay Hospital.

The man, believed to be in his early 20s, suffered chest and head injuries after the car he was driving collided with a tree on a road north of Wairoa at about 8.30am today.

Sergeant Aubrey Ormond of Wairoa police said the car appeared to have veered across the road, travelling 50-60 metres along the riverside bank of the road before eventually crashing into a tree.

The car came to rest out-of-sight of most passing motorists, he said.

The man was discovered after a farmer, who was riding his tractor past the crash, saw the car.

Mr Ormond said the farmer went home to drop off the tractor before returning with his brother to check on the car.

"They found the driver a short distance away, sitting," he said.

The man got out of the car and walked down the bank, towards the river.

"It's just lucky that the farmer saw him from up on his tractor. Other cars passing would not have seen him."

Mr Ormond said the man had been lying in the ditch for about two hours, "possibly longer", before emergency services arrived.

The man was believed to have been the sole occupant of the car.

- NZPA