A woman was killed this afternoon in a head-on smash near Wakefield, south of Nelson.

Police have named her as 51-year-old Michelle Hook.

She was driving on the Wakefield-Kohatu Highway, State Highway 6, when she collided with a van travelling in the opposite direction on a straight section of the road, about 3.30pm, said Senior Sergeant Stu Koefoed of Nelson police.

The 30-year-old man driving the van was hospitalised with serious injuries.

SH6 was closed for several hours while police examined the scene and cleared the road.

Police had referred Ms Hook's death to the coroner.