Rotorua police scoured Mamaku scrub for an injured driver after a burning Toyota Hilux was spotted by a passing logging truck driver.
The ute was empty and there was a small fire, which the driver extinguished. It reignited and required firefighters from Rotorua Fire Brigade to bring under control. Volunteer crews from Mamaku and Ngongotaha could not be mustered.
Rotorua police Constable Tony O'Keefe said the ute turned out to have been stolen some time yesterday.
Police were called around 11.30am by a truck driver heading towards Mamaku along South Rd, approximately 6km south of Mamaku School.
"He's checked the vehicle after putting out a small fire and no one's been in it," Mr O'Keefe said.
"We've had a look around and can't find anyone. The vehicle has since been reported stolen."
He said the ute was registered to a Mamaku house and police would contact the owner for any further information that might help with their inquiry.
"For logging trucks this road is busy and a lot of locals use it but only because they know it," Mr O'Keefe said.
"At least no one was inside the vehicle when it was checked."
He said the owner had warned police there may have been shotgun ammunition in the ute and a reasonable distance was kept until the fire was out.