A British paramedic on holiday in Northland was in the right place at the right time to save the life of a man who lost his leg in a motorcycle crash.

Police say the woman tourist was in a campervan following the motorcyclist when he and an oncoming car collided near the Road Runner Tavern, on State Highway 11 at Paihia, about 5.25pm on Tuesday.

Emergency services were called but the paramedic sprang into action before they arrived.

She and three other English tourists in the campervan were on their way south.

Constable Natalie Syddall of Paihia said two doctors who also stopped shortly after the collision had praised the paramedic, saying she had done enough to save the man's life on the side of the road.

"They praised her actions and said he was a very, very lucky man to have had such good medical attention straight away," Ms Syddall said.

"She stabilised him and stemmed the bleeding."

The 34-year-old Pahia man was flown by the Northland Electricity rescue helicopter to Whangarei Hospital, where he was reported in a serious but stable condition in the intensive care unit.

He has lost the lower half of his right leg.

Police said initial investigations suggested that the motorcyclist, who was travelling towards Paihia, might have been pulling out to overtake a truck when he and a car going in the opposite direction collided.