A 60km police chase of four youths speeding in a stolen car through West Coast valleys yesterday afternoon ended when the vehicle left the road.
Three boys and a 14-year-old girl were arrested and appeared in the Youth Court at Greymouth today.
Police said in a statement last night the chase and arrests followed a series of vehicle thefts and drive-offs from petrol stations around the South Island -- including Dunedin, Kaiapoi, Blenheim and Reefton.
Police took some time to capture the group after they sped through Stillwater after midday.
One motorist told the Greymouth Star he met the stolen car, with the police not far behind, at high speed through the 50kph zone in Stillwater, as he was travelling towards Taylorville.
At the time work was being undertaken on the Stillwater Bridge and traffic was down to one lane.
"There were two police cars -- one was probably five minutes behind."
The pursuit continued through the Arnold Valley and past Moana and Inchbonnie, with the police missing an opportunity to block the path of the fleeing vehicle on the Stanley Gooseman Bridge over the Taramakau River.
They were eventually caught on State Highway 73 near Aickens, about 5km east of Jacksons.
The youths -- a 16-year-old boy, two 17-year-old boys and the girl -- appeared before Justice of the Peace Maureen Truman in the Youth Court this morning, charged with the theft of two vehicles, theft from honesty boxes and petrol drive-offs. The driver was also charged with failing to stop for police and other driving offences.
The Greymouth Star was refused permission to sit through the court appearance.
Mrs Truman made an order banning the press from covering the appearance on the grounds that one of the defendants was under 16, and appearing in the Youth Court.
In the police statement last night, Sergeant Brent Cook said the youths had been on the run since Tuesday after stealing a vehicle.
"They then stole a second vehicle after the first vehicle broke down. The group have travelled up the east coast of the South Island to Nelson, and then down the West Coast of the island before being captured in Lake Brunner [area]," Mr Cook said.