Police who went to the home of a man they believed had just been killed after a police pursuit south of Auckland yesterday were met by him at the door.
Police officers found a passport in the dead man's pocket after the crash at the intersection of Patumahoe Rd and Waiuku Rd in Pukekohe about 3pm yesterday.
They thought it belonged to the driver, so went to the passport holder's address to break the bad news, Counties Manukau Police communications manager Natalie Swart told NZPA.
Instead they found the passport holder there, alive and well.
He told officers his car had been stolen a few days earlier, with his passport inside.
The dead man had now been identified through fingerprints and police were in the process of informing his family, Ms Swart said.
The passport holder's stolen car was not the one involved in the fatal crash, she said.
Police said they began chasing the stolen silver Nissan after it was seen speeding in a rural area but abandoned the chase about 30 seconds before it collided with a Ford Falcon.
The pursuit lasted "one or two minutes'', Counties Manukau area commander Inspector Gary Hill told Radio New Zealand.
A woman, the sole occupant of the other car, was shaken but not injured.
"It's very amazing that the female driver has not been more seriously injured or worse, killed,'' Mr Hill said.
"Both vehicles are a complete write-off and it's quite a horrific scene.''
Members of the public reported seeing a second person flee the Nissan on foot but police had not been able to verify the sightings.
Mr Hill said the serious crash unit was investigating but an initial assessment suggested police had done nothing wrong.
"I think at this stage, obviously there's an investigation ongoing, but initially it appears police were justified in attempting to stop the vehicle and police have done everything by the book,'' he said.