The driver fleeing police early this morning in Christchurch was not travelling at a "horrendous" speed but had reportedly been driving in an erratic manner, police say.

One man died and five other people were badly injured after a four-minute police pursuit ended with the fleeing vehicle crashing into another car at the intersection of Glandovey and Idris roads in Fendalton soon after 4am.

The man killed was in a vehicle driven by an innocent motorist, hit by the fleeing vehicle.

Canterbury Metro Area Commander Superintendent Lane Todd told media this morning the pursuit was under investigation by the Independent Police Conduct Authority.

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Todd said their records showed police had not called off the pursuit before the crash happened.

"The pursuit was still active at the time of the crash but obviously the circumstances leading up to crash will be part of that wider investigation."

He said the fleeing vehicle was not travelling at horrendous speeds but was over the speed limit.

Police pursuit: One dead, five hurt as fleeing car crashes into innocent motorist. Video / RNZ

"The officers have reported that the nature of the driving was erratic and they were concerned with the manner of the driving, which is why they had attended to stop and talk with the driver and then the pursuit had been initiated after that," Todd said.

"At this stage the car does not appear to be stolen."

Todd said police had been in contact with the man's family and were offering support at this horrendous time.

Todd said: "This is an absolute tragedy and a horrific outcome."

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The pursuit began when a Toyota vehicle failed to stop for police on Papanui Rd about 4am.

Police pursued the vehicle for four minutes through residential streets, Todd said.

Five people were in this Toyota when it failed to stop for police and a pursuit began.
Five people were in this Toyota when it failed to stop for police and a pursuit began.

"At the intersection of Glandovey Rd and Idris Rd the Toyota collided with a Hyundai driven by a member of the public.

"The driver and sole occupant of the Hyundai sustained critical injuries and was transported to hospital, where they sadly died.

"There were five occupants in the Toyota. Initial indications are that one of the occupants has sustained critical injuries and the other four serious to moderate injuries."

A St John spokesman said six people were initially taken to hospital including two in a critical condition, three seriously injured and one person with moderate injuries.

"We have no indication who was from what vehicle or age or gender of the patients," the spokesman said.

Five ambulances and two St John first response vehicles were at the scene.

The Serious Crash Unit is examining the scene and the Independent Police Conduct Authority will be notified, police say.

The intersection of Glandovey Rd and Idris Rd will be closed for a number of hours with diversions in place.