A young woman is dead and another seriously injured after two cars crashed head-on a road known as the "highway of death" yesterday afternoon.

Inspector Leo Tooman, road policing manager for Waikato, said a 17-year-old driver had been killed after the cars collided in thick fog at 4pm on SH2 near Maramarua.

A 45-year-old woman was taken to Auckland Hospital by Westpac Rescue Helicopter in a "serious" condition.

Witness Justin McDermott said the crash site was a scene of devastation. The wreckage from both cars was strewn 15m along the road and the driver's side of the girl's car had been crushed by the impact.

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The right wheel of the woman's car had been ripped off. Both cars had wound up on the same side of the road.

A 22-year-old male was also taken to hospital by road with moderate injuries.

The Serious Crash Unit was investigating last night and the road was closed for several hours.

The crash took place on a stretch of road previously known as the "highway of death" because of the high number of fatal crashes. Between 2003 and September 2010 the road claimed 31 lives and 56 people were seriously injured.

Another crash occurred early yesterday morning about 1km further along SH2, just before Ngatea, which was also swathed in fog.

The smashed up car, which had wiped out a power pole, was still in the paddock several hours later.