A baby boy is in a critical condition in intensive care after a van with eight people inside went off a 10m bank on the Napier-Taupo road this morning.
Hawke's Bay Hospital has activated a ''multiple trauma response'' meaning extra specialists and nurses have been called in to deal with accident victims, which also included a man in a critical condition.
The van crashed off State highway 5 at 6.45am near Tarawera, Senior Sergeant Marc Clausen said.
Following the crash, a seriously injured man managed to carry the six-month old baby back to the road where he waved down a passing car.
Emergency services spent several hours working to free the trapped passengers and getting them up the steep bank. They were all flown to hospital.
The baby and a man aged in his 30s were both in a critical condition in the intensive care unit. It was earlier thought the baby was relatively unharmed.
Two other children, girls aged 9 and 12, were seriously hurt. A man and woman, both in their 30s were also left with seriously injures. A man in his 40s and a man in his 20s were both in a stable condition in a general ward.
The crash site was described as ''the worst place you would ever want for an accident'', Clausen said.
It was not known how the man and baby got back to the road.
SH5 reopened at midday but police warned of delays as the traffic backlog cleared.
Jim Andrew, from the Tarawera Cafe, said the crash happened about 3km south of Tarawera in an area known as Stony Creek.
Traffic was backed up ''quite a bit'' in both directions and cafe staff had been unable to get to work this morning.
Website dangerousroads.org said while the road was spectacular it was also dangerous.
"This infamous road is tightly hairpinned and bumped, an exquisite winding mountain drive with sharp and blind curves and hairpin switchbacks leading the traveller over the mountains. The surface of the road is asphalted, and chains or snow tyres can be required anytime."
- Fairfax Media