A 21-year-old American citizen has been charged in relation to the deaths of two people in a crash on State Highway 10 south of Kerikeri.

The man faces two counts of careless driving causing death and has been bailed with conditions to appear in the Kaikohe District Court on Friday, Kerikeri Police Sergeant Ross Laurie said.

The head-on crash occurred about 11.20pm on Monday on State Highway 10 on a moderate bend north of Puketona Junction and south of Bulls Gorge, about 5km south of the Kerikeri turnoff.

The American was travelling north in a people-mover with one passenger while the other vehicle, a Subaru with four occupants, was travelling south. SH10 was closed for several hours after the smash.


Police have yet to release the names of the deceased, aged 24 and 26, but they were believed to be from the Kerikeri and Kaeo areas.

One other passenger in the Subaru was seriously injured and flown to Whangarei Hospital by the Northland Rescue Helicopter while the fourth sustained minor injuries and was taken to Bay of Islands Hospital in Kawakawa.

The occupants of the people-mover suffered only minor injuries. They were checked at Bay of Islands Hospital as a precaution.

It is understood the people-mover had crossed the centreline. Alcohol was not thought to be a factor. The police Serious Crash Unit was investigating.

Kerikeri Fire Brigade responded with two appliances. Firefighters had to use cutting equipment to dismantle the Subaru and free the badly trapped driver, fire chief Less Wasson said.

He died at the scene despite the efforts of emergency services, along with a passenger who had been thrown from the vehicle. Another passenger was badly injured but had managed to get out of the wreckage by himself.

The highway was closed until about 5am yesterday with traffic diverted via Te Ahu Ahu Rd, Waimate North Rd and Wiroa Rd.

The double fatal brings Northland's road toll for the year to date to 17, more than double last year's toll of eight at the end of March.


It also pushed the national Easter holiday toll to six, three times last year's total.

The Assistant Commissioner for Road Policing, Sandra Venables, said the tragic weekend was a reminder to all road users to take care of themselves and their passengers.