Two vans carrying 21 people, including one with Chinese tourists, have collided near Taumarunui.
The crash happened on State Highway 43 between Taumarunui and Ohura about 3pm on Friday. Police said local workers were travelling in the other van.
St John Ambulance said two men in their 20s suffered critical and serious injuries. They and six others have been flown to Waikato Hospital.
Seven passengers with moderate injuries have been taken to Taumarunui Hospital.
Police district operations manager Ian May said six Chinese tourists who were not hurt drove to Taumaranui Hospital to be with the others and an interpreter has been made available.
Police said preliminary findings show that one van had been on the wrong side of the road and crashed head-on into the other.