"If this is a real gun and he pulls the trigger, then mate, I'm gone."
That was the thought that flashed through a Hastings taxi driver's head when he was robbed at gunpoint and robbed early on Saturday morning.
The driver, who wished not to be named, said his emotions were high after the unexpected altercation.
"A lot of things are going through my head, I don't know where to go from here."
Senior sergeant Dan Foley said between midnight and 1am a 20-year-old man pushed a pistol into the taxi driver's face, dragged him out of the car and seriously assaulted him.
"It was quite a serious aggravated robbery."
The 48-year-old, who works for Hastings Taxis, said he was a "newbie" and had only been in the job a couple of years.
While his colleagues had told him about some of their awful experiences, he never envisioned having a gun brandished before him - or ending up in hospital at the end of a job.
Mr Foley said the offender fled in the taxi, and left the injured driver on a dark street to knock on doors for help.
The driver said he owed the woman who came to his aid a box of chocolates.
She took him in, made him a hot drink and called the police.
Meanwhile the GPS system fitted to the taxi allowed police to track the car.
Mr Foley said there was no pursuit but police saw the offender stopping the car on Ngatarawa Rd before going "cross country".
He said it was thought the man went, on foot, through paddocks and vineyards.
An electronic device taken from the car which also had a tracking system on it allowed police to locate him, the sergeant said.
A helicopter was called in during the hunt to use high-beam search lights as well as the Armed Offenders Squad and police dogs.
The man was apprehended and arrested just before 3am at the rear of a Flaxmere home which backed on to vineyards.
Mr Foley applauded modern technology and the central role it played in helping to track and arrest the man.
The driver, who grew up in Flaxmere, said he was shocked at what had happened.
"This sort of stuff, it's not supposed to happen in Hawke's Bay."
Being a taxi driver, he said they often came across idiots but guns were another story.
"It flashed through my head that this gun is real and if he lets go of it then I'm done."
The driver was taken to hospital and was discharged some hours later. Deciding to stay away from picking up people in poorly lit areas of town, the man said he was not rethinking his career choice.
But he was devastated he was now without a car.
"That's my livelihood, my job."
He had accepted the kind offer of colleagues who offered him their cars so he could return to work on Tuesday.
A man appeared before Hastings District Court on Saturday in relation to the incident. He has been charged with assault and aggravated robbery. He was remanded in custody awaiting another court appearance.
For more articles from this region, go to Hawkes Bay Today