Tongariro Forest Park New Zealand
The incident happened at Tongariro Forest Park on New Zealand's North IslandGoogle Maps

A number of British tourists are reported to have been hurt when a coach crashed 10m (32ft) down a bank into a shallow stream in a beauty spot on New Zealand's North Island.

Fifteen tourists were hurt, including four seriously, but it is not yet clear how many were British. One woman had to be cut free from the wreckage where she was partially submerged in water.

The four most seriously injured victims were taken to Waikato Hospital in Hamilton. The rest were taken to Taupo, Rotorua and Whanganui hospitals.

Rescuers said the tourists were lucky to be alive following the crash, which took place at 8am local time (15 January).

The coach was carrying Britons and Americans in their 60s in Tongariro Forest Park, 346km (214 miles) south of Auckland.

One of the rescuers at the scene told said the bus was going west along SH48 when it crossed the T-junction with SH47 and went down the bank.

"They were very lucky… there's been a couple of fatalities on that corner," National Park Volunteer Fire Brigade chief fire officer Neil Ranford told the New Zealand Herald.

Dozens of rescuers were soon on the scene and a rope line passed down to bring the injured tourists back up to the road, said Ranford.

"They were all knocked around a bit from going down that bank," he said, "they were all looking a bit shocked."

Weather conditions in the area at the time were said to be poor but it is not known if this was a factor in the crash, which is being investigated by the serious crash unit.

Senior constable Mark Shivers said: "Part of every investigation includes the driver, the vehicle and the roads and roadsides, and the weather, and everything will be taken into consideration."

The coach was operated by tour company Moa Trek whose company director Miles Clark said: "We are very sorry that this has occurred on one of our tours and we are working hard to ensure we do whatever we can to support our team member (driver) and our passengers. The immediate priority is the health and welfare of those injured and needing the most attention."