A horrific crash that has closed State Highway 1 near Taupō is causing huge disruption in heavy traffic on the last day of the school holidays.

A long stretch of the highway has been closed between the crash at Ohakuri Rd, near Atiamuri, and Oruanui Rd, just north of Taupō.

Southbound traffic is being diverted westwards off State Highway 1at the Atiamuri bridge over the Waikato River on to State Highway 30 to Whakamaru.

Traffic is then being directed over the Whakamaru Dam on to State Highway 32 and south to Poihipi Rd, then back eastwards on Poihipi Rd and Oruanui Rd to rejoin State Highway 1 near Wairakei.

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Northbound traffic is following the same detour route in the opposite direction.

An NZTA spokeswoman said the detour would normally take about 30 minutes, but delays were expected to be much longer as traffic builds up.

"We would like to encourage people to plan on those delays," she said.

SH1 ATIAMURI, WAIKATO - SERIOUS CRASH - UPDATE 1:25PM This road remains CLOSED. A detour is in place - you can find all...

Posted by NZ Transport Agency Waikato BoP on Saturday, 27 April 2019

She said motorists who are still a long distance from the crash scene would be advised to avoid the area altogether by taking alternative routes, such as State Highway 5 from Wairakei to Tirau via Rotorua.

Eight people have died in the crash and State Highway 1 is expected to be closed for some hours.

Further advice wil be posted on the NZTA Waikato BoP Facebook page at 2.30pm.