A man who led police on a car chase into central Whangarei will appear in court today - just across the road from where he was caught after his escape was foiled by the Bank St traffic lights.

The 40-year-old Whangarei man was spotted by police as he drove along Kiripaka Rd in Tikipunga at 1.40pm, Sergeant Stephanie Hudson said.

Unfortunately for him, the officers recognised him as allegedly not having a driver licence and pursued him down Kiripaka Hill before police deployed spikes on Mill Rd, destroying one of the vehicle's front tyres.

The man continued driving and was eventually brought to a halt by heavy traffic outside Whangarei District Court on Bank St thanks to nearby traffic lights. He allegedly refused to get out of the car and was arrested following "a bit of a tussle", Ms Hudson said. Charges included driving while forbidden, driving in a dangerous manner and failing to stop.

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A group of about 20 people came out of the Whangarei courthouse to watch the incident unfold. One passerby observed: "Oh well, at least he won't have far to go."