One person is dead following a crash on State Highway 3 at the Awakino Tunnel.

The accident has taken the Easter Weekend holiday road toll to two.

Police were called to the two-car crash at 1.20pm and say the road which connects Taranaki and Waitomo is likely to be closed for the rest of the day.

People are being asked to avoid the area - NZTA says the road is likely to remain closed for most of the day.

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A motorist told the Herald cars were still heading into the Gorge, unaware of the crash and closure.

"Traffic is backed up at least 500m, as people try to find a spot to turn around. Emergency services at the scene said not to bother waiting at the cordon, as it will be closed for hours. The nearest place is the Awakino Hotel, which is now full of families and holiday travelers, figuring out how they will get home now."