A police patrol car that was stolen during a traffic stop in Whangamata last night has been recovered.

The firearms the vehicle carried were not accessed.

The car was taken about 11.30pm when an officer was conducting a traffic stop for speeding.

A passenger of the vehicle which was stopped took the officer's car and fled as far as Opoutere, where it was found about 3am.

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"The taking of a Police vehicle is a serious offence, and police are following lines of enquiry to locate the offender," a statement said.

"This is a rare and isolated incident which police will be investigating."