An elderly man is dead and another recovering in hospital after a four wheel drive crash on a farm near Wairoa.

The two 73-year-olds were on a four-wheel-drive trek in Ruatakuri Valley when their vehicle left the track and rolled down a steep 25 metre bank at approximately 2.30pm on Friday.

Both men were thrown from the vehicle as it rolled.

Hawke's Bay and Gisborne Rescue Helicopters flew the men to Hawke's Bay Hospital, but one man, believed to be the passenger, died during the flight.

The other man was admitted to hospital in a critical condition. A hospital spokeswoman said he was recovering well, and this morning described his condition as "stable and comfortable".

Sergeant Aubrey Ormond said it appeared the driver lost control of the vehicle.

Four wheel drive trek operator Steve Beston said the valley is a popular spot for off-road enthusiasts.

"There's always a risk, but it's not a particularly dangerous area if you know what you're doing.

"The overall accident rate across four wheel drivers is very low."

Sergeant Ormond did not expect alcohol was a factor in the crash, but said tests had been carried out.

Department of Labour and police investigations are continuing.