A Polish tourist at the wheel of an SUV involved in a head-on crash that seriously injured two people has been charged with careless driving causing injury.

The 29-year-old driver was the sole occupant of a northbound SUV that collided with a Subaru on State Highway 47, west of Turangi, on Monday morning. He escaped without injury but two men in the backseat of the Subaru suffered serious injuries and were flown to Waikato Hospital.

The driver of the other car, a 38-year-old American living in Wellington, suffered a broken wrist and a front-seat passenger walked away without injury.

Police say neither backseat passenger was wearing a seat belt. A 40-year-old remains in a critical condition and his 46-year-old companion is serious but stable. Police say all three passengers in the Subaru were from the Czech Republic.


Taupo Sergeant Steve Denny said the injuries were a reminder of the importance of making sure all passengers were wearing seat belts.

"If they had been belted in they might have walked away from the crash," he said.

The crash happened near the Te Ponanga Saddle on the road that links Turangi and Taupo with the Tongariro National Park.

The Polish tourist is to appear in the Taupo District Court on April 5.

- Taupo & Turangi Weekender