A motorist escaped without injury when their car rolled after it was apparently rear-ended by a van in the Dunedin suburb of Caversham this afternoon.

Mosgiel man Matthew Bernard O'Neill said he was stopped at the pedestrian crossing in South Rd near the Caversham shops about 4.30pm when a van loomed behind him, failed to stop and smashed into the back of his car, rolling his hatchback.

"I wasn't expecting anything and I've just been turned around and flipped over.''

The car came to rest on its roof on the curb, but he escaped injury.

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The 39-year-old was unable to open his driver's side door but passerby Rochelle Kane stopped to open it and helped him from the vehicle.

A shaken Kane explained she was simply doing what her father Noel, a volunteer firefighter with the Ravensbourne brigade for 45 years, had always instructed her to do.

"I just ran over to make sure he's okay.''

A witness said the man driving the silver work van had a young boy as a passenger in the front seat, and tried to take evasive action before slamming into the back of the stopped red hatchback.

St John spokesman Gerard Campbell said one person was taken to Dunedin Hospital.

Police attended and interviewed those at the scene, and the road was reduced to one lane for a time.