The six people involved in a serious head-on crash near Whakapara were "very lucky" to escape with their lives, a police officer said.

Russell Rd was blocked for several hours yesterday afternoon following a head-on collision at 12.30pm. The crash scene was about 30 kilometres north of Whangarei and 7km off State Highway 1.

Two people were taken to Whangarei Hospital in a serious condition and three in a moderate condition. One person escaped unharmed. One was later airlifted to Auckland Hospital.

Whangarei police Sergeant Mohammed Atiq said it was "very lucky" the six occupants - three in each car - had escaped with their lives.


It appeared one of the vehicles had crossed the centre line and ploughed into the other, Mr Atiq said.

The mangled Nissan Tino and Subaru Legacy involved blocked Russell Rd for most of the afternoon yesterday while the police's Serious Crash Unit investigated. Detours were via Peach Orchard Rd and Pigs Head Rd.

Meanwhile, police had their work cut out for them on Northland roads over the weekend with several "idiot drivers" arrested, one allegedly so drunk he told police he was not sure where he was heading.

A 25-year-old driver was reported by a witness at 6.20pm on Saturday night. The informant was overtaken by the man who was driving along State Highway 14 near Weke, about 18 kilometres south-west of Whangarei. As he overtook, he nearly crashed into an oncoming car.

The Auckland man was skidding and veering across lanes. "Even on a straight piece of road he veered off the road," Whangarei police Senior Sergeant Steph Hudson said.

The man crashed into a ditch and when police arrived at the scene he said he was unsure where he was going. He will face at least four charges relating to refusing to give a blood specimen, dangerous driving and two counts of causing sustained loss of traction.

"Another idiot", as Sergeant Hudson put it, was the 37-year-old who fled police through Kaikohe about 9pm on Saturday.

The chase started on Mangakahia Rd near Kaikohe and continued along the town's main drag, Broadway, before police abandoned it near Clifford St. The man crashed the car on Hillcrest Rd and fled on foot, but was tracked by a police dog and arrested.

The man - from the Far North - has been remanded in custody and will face charges relating to failing to stop, reckless driving, sustained loss of traction and refusing a blood specimen for the third or subsequent time.

Police have also arrested a 40-year-old who stole a ute from Oakleigh petrol station at 5.20pm on Friday while the owner was inside paying his bill.

The allegedly drunk man stole the Toyota Hilux Surf and made it as far as Tangihua Rd in Maungakaramea before he was picked up by police. It is understood the owner's iPhone was inside the vehicle and aided police in finding the vehicle.

The man has been charged with unlawful taking of a motor vehicle, driving with excess breath alcohol and being an unlicensed driver. He is in custody.