A man has been killed in a crash which has shut down a main highway between Tauranga and Rotorua.

Western Bay of Plenty head of road policing Senior Sergeant Ian Campion said at least one man had died when a truck and trailer unit went over a bank on State Highway 36 at Ngawaro Gorge, about 250m south of Te Matai.

The man has been identified as a 63-year-old Rotorua man.

Mr Campion said the truck failed to take a right-hand bend and left the road.


"The road is closed and will be closed for some time, given there are hazardous materials on the vehicle," Mr Campion said.

A 250m exclusion zone is in place around the crash and the New Zealand Fire Service was working to identify the chemical. Mr Campion said the road could be closed up to 12 hours.

The Bay of Plenty Regional Council has also sent a team to the crash.

Regulatory compliance team leader Alex Miller said staff visited the crash site and would continue to monitor the situation, liaising with people at the scene "to identify any impacts, and determine the best course of action for removing the waste".

"An exclusion zone has been put in place around the incident by emergency services, and it is believed to be carrying a number of different chemicals. It is currently unclear what the environmental impact of the incident is, and whether or not the chemicals are contained."

Diversions are in place at Dudley Rd and Te Matai Rd.