A 26-year-old Gisborne woman is in a critical condition in hospital after her car plunged 15 metres off the road into a remote Bay of Plenty valley today.

The car, a small hatchback with two children on-board left the road, flipped on its way down the almost sheer face, and landed in the Waioeka River.

A member of the public alerted police to the crash from a property near the crash site around 11am.

The woman in the car was knocked unconscious and was temporarily trapped in the partially submerged car. She was freed by emergency services and is now at Tauranga Hospital in a critical condition.

Advertisement

The two children, aged 8 and 4, managed to escape the wreckage and were in a "comfortable condition'' at Tauranga Hospital, a spokesman said.

Due to the remote location of the crash site, in the Waioeka Gorge near Opotiki, emergency services struggled to get the injured woman up to the road.

Rescue helicopters were scrambled to airlift the crash victims to hospital but were hampered by poor weather, and were diverted to Opotiki Airfield.

The three victims were roped up from the riverbed by emergency services and were taken by ambulance to Opotiki and flown to hospital from there.

Trustpower TECT Rescue Helicopter base manager and pilot Liam Brettkelly said they all suffered serious head injuries in the crash.

The woman was believed to have been the mother of the children, however that had yet to be confirmed.

The police serious crash unit was investigating.