An elderly woman was killed when a car crashed into a bank on State Highway 5, about 20km west of Rotorua last night - the 11th person to die on the roads this holiday period.

The woman, a tourist on holiday in New Zealand, was a back seat passenger in a Nissan Pulsar which was travelling towards Hamilton when the crash occurred shortly after 5pm.

She died at the scene while a 26-year-old Auckland woman was flown to Rotorua Hospital with moderate injuries. The road was closed so the Tenon Rescue Helicopter could land to airlift the woman. The driver received minor injuries.

Sergeant William Hale of the Tokoroa police said there were no other vehicles involved and early investigations suggest fatigue may have been a factor in the crash.

About the same time, a two-vehicle collision in the Waikato left one person seriously injured and another three with serious to moderate injuries.

The crash occurred at Waihou, 5km southwest of Te Aroha, on Ngarua Rd, State Highway 27.

Despite the rising road toll, police say fewer people are dying on Bay of Plenty roads - but they aren't ready to break out the bubbly just yet.

Yesterday's death brought the national holiday road toll to 11 - marring what had been the best year on record for the number of fatalities on the region's roads.

Eleven people died during the entire holiday period last year and police are appealing for calm driving and patience on the roads.

Forty-four people have died in the Bay of Plenty so far this year - 18 fewer than last year and five fewer than the previous record low for fatal crashes, set in 2002.

Nineteen of those deaths were in the Taupo district. Western Bay of Plenty and Eastern Bay of Plenty each recorded 11 fatalities and Rotorua three.

The positive trend for the Bay of Plenty is reflected in fewer deaths recorded in Rotorua.

Eight people died on the district's roads last year while 11 deaths were recorded in Rotorua in 2003.

While 2005 has been a positive year so far, the holiday period means there is traditionally more traffic on the roads and police are urging people to drive safely.

Senior Sergeant Ed van den Broek of the Rotorua Police Strategic Traffic Unit said police were targeting the region's state highways, where most crashes occurred.

"It's simple physics ... travelling at speed on the open roads means more people are likely to be injured or killed in a crash."

Taupo traditionally records more fatalities than other districts as it includes the busy stretch of State Highway 1, between the Desert Rd summit and Tirau, as well as Tokoroa and Putaruru.

There were 26 fatalities in Taupo last year and Mr van den Broek credits this year's reduction with a project involving various agencies, including police, Transit New Zealand, Opus International Consultants and local councils.

Efforts had been made to widen fog lines to make them more visible to motorists and install rumble strips along the left side of the road. Signs were also erected warning people of crash hot spots.

Police were disappointed, however, with the number of crashes in the Eastern Bay, which includes the notoriously windy Waioeka Gorge between Opotiki and Gisborne. Extra crash barriers and more accurate speed advisory signs had been erected this year to slow motorists but Mr van den Broek said they appeared to have had little effect.

Alcohol was considered a major factor in several crashes in the Western Bay this year.

Four people were killed in crashes on Tuesday. A 9-year-old boy who died when a 4WD rolled while driving along a firebreak near Atiamuri may not have been wearing a seatbelt. He was Campbell Edward Stewart of Auckland, who was on holiday in the area.

The crash happened about 1pm on a firebreak adjacent to Ongaroto Rd, about 25km southeast of Tokoroa. It appeared the Toyota Surf - the only vehicle involved - rolled after the driver lost control.

Police have also named a Wainuiomata man who was killed in a crash on State Highway 4, southwest of Te Kuiti about 7.30am on Tuesday. He was Oren James Reweti, 29. Ricky James Wallace, 19, of Brightwater about 20km southwest of Nelson, was killed when the van in which he was a passenger crossed the centre line at State Highway 60 at Mariri, near Motueka, about 5.15pm and collided with a Honda Integra.

Meanwhile, police have not yet released the name of a 58-year-old Auckland man, who was killed in a collision between a camper van and car on Tuesday at Kopu, about 4km from Thames.

Police have also yet to name a motorcyclist, who was killed on Boxing Day in a collision with a car on State Highway 1 at Johnsons Hill, between Orewa and Waiwera, and a 30-year-old man who died in a crash on Christmas night on State Highway 35, about 6km east of Te Kaha in the Eastern Bay of Plenty.

A teenager died on Christmas day when the van in which he was a passenger went out of control in Wanganui.

He was Richard Hohipa, a Wanganui resident, formerly of Levin.

Two people died in a crash on Saturday morning on SH1 in Northland, about 5km south of Kawakawa.

One was 86-year-old Lamon Omer Leaf, known as "Jock", of Helensville, northwest of Auckland.

The other - a middle-aged woman - has not yet been named.

In north Canterbury, Kevin Joseph McAnally, 44, of Amberley, died after he became trapped in the burning wreckage of his car which collided with a passenger train at a rail crossing near Sefton, about 6.30pm on Friday.

The holiday period runs from 4pm on December 23 to 6am on Wednesday, January 4.

additional reporting by NZPA