A man who died in a two-car crash in Christchurch yesterday has been described as "a loving man" with a "one-of-a-kind authentic personality".

Ian William Clarke, 64, died in the collision in Templeton yesterday morning. He was a local and a long-serving staff member at the Department of Corrections.

In a statement issued by police this morning, Mr Clarke's family said they were "still coming to terms with the tragic loss".

Mr Clarke - who was known to his friends and colleagues as 'Hairy Wire Whiskers' and 'Uncle Nitty' - had "a huge involvement in all things vintage, cars, motorbikes and steam engines", his family said.

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"He was a loving man with a very creative, one-of-a-kind authentic personality.

"Ian did anything for anybody and was extremely proud of his whole family."

His employer, the Department of Corrections, also issued a statement, saying: "It's with great sadness that I have learned of the death of one of our staff in Christchurch.

"He was a long-serving, highly respected staff member at Corrections. Our thoughts and condolences go out to his family and friends and those who worked with him at this very difficult time."

Mr Clarke died following a collision between his red Mazda Eunos and a silver Nissan Sunny on State Highway 73, or West Coast Rd, a short distance west of the intersection with Miners Rd, shortly after 7.30am. yesterday.

Yesterday police said witnesses had reported the two vehicles collided as the Mazda attempted to perform a U-turn. Both vehicles had been travelling westbound prior to the crash.

Mr Clarke died at the scene. His death has been referred to the coroner, police said.

The driver of the other vehicle was discharged from hospital yesterday afternoon.

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The serious crash unit were continuing to investigate the cause of the crash, police said.

"Canterbury Police, Victim Support and his employer are working to support his family who are, understandably, extremely upset at their sudden and tragic loss," a spokeswoman said.

"Canterbury Police will not be making any further comment on this ongoing investigation."