Rescuers had to cut free two people trapped in their mangled vehicles after a serious crash on State Highway 1 south of Whangarei.

One person was seriously injured in the two-car smash, and one person from the other vehicle received moderate injuries. Both are being taken to Whangarei Hospital.

The crash happened in Otaika, south of Whangarei at 6.30am, at the intersection of SH1 and the Portland turn-off.

Early indications were a northbound car, driven by a 17-year-old male, and a car travelling in the opposite direction, driven by a 28-year-old male, collided head-on after one vehicle crossed the centre line.

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"The cars have collapsed around their legs trapping them," Goulsbro said.

The NZ Transport Agency said SH1 has reopened after the crash, and traffic is starting to flow again.