State Highway 30 has reopened after a crash that claimed the life of one person near Whakatāne.
Two others were seriously injured in two-car crash between a car and a ute.
A police spokeswoman said the crash happened about 8.17am on State Highway 30 near Luxton and Fortunes Rds, and just north of Te Rahu Rd in Awakeri.
Earlier a St John spokeswoman said two people critically injured were being flown to Waikato Hospital while another in a serious condition was being flown to Tauranga Hospital.
Another in serious condition was being taken by road to Whakatāne Hospital.
Three ambulances and two rescue helicopters were at the scene, she said.
Police said State Highway 30 State Highway 30 was expected to remain closed until mid-afternoon today.
A Serious Crash Unit examination was under way.
A contractor at the scene told a Rotorua Daily Post reporter that there were "nails and tools" all over the road as it appeared one of the vehicles was filled with equipment.
The reporter said traffic was "crazy" around the cordons.
NZ Transport Agency Bay of Plenty System Manager Rob Campbell said the road was closed just north of Te Rahu Rd.
"Motorists are encouraged to delay their journeys where possible and to avoid the area.
"There is a detour in place via Te Rahu Rd, Selwyn Rd, Paroa Rd and Fortunes Rd before rejoining SH30 for traffic heading east toward Whakatāne. Traffic travelling west toward Awakeri should use the same route, in reverse," he said.
"The Transport Agency thanks motorists for their patience."
A motorist told the Rotorua Daily Post the road was closed from the Tauranga turnoff and traffic is getting diverted through Poroporo from Awakeri-Taneatua turn off.
She had seen numerous emergency vehicles heading to the scene.