A man who drove like a "complete idiot" was arrested after a five-hour manhunt during which he tried to ram a police car, and hurled a pie out his window, police say.

During the manhunt residents in a rural Northland road where the car was abandoned, were told to lock up and stay inside.

Inspector Al Symonds said the search began after a pursuit about 8.30am yesterday after a man, who was speeding failed to pull over for an officer.

Mr Symonds said while driving the man threw a pie out the window, led police down State Highway 14 towards Dargaville and at one stage pretended to pull over and then tried to reverse into an officer's car several times.


"He was driving like a complete idiot. He was driving at excessive speeds and putting the public in significant danger," said Mr Symonds.

Mr Symonds said the pursuit ended about 9am after police lost sight of the vehicle when it turned off State Highway 14 onto Kirikopuni Valley Rd, then Houto Rd.

Cordons and spikes were put in place on both ends of Houto Rd - where the vehicle was found abandoned. Mr Symonds said the car would be forensically examined.

Two men who were working near the intersection of Kirikopuni Valley Rd and Houto Rd said they saw a black car zoom past and head down Houto Rd about 9am. The pair said shortly after that they saw "blue lights flashing through" and about 10 minutes later two more police cars followed.

"I was waiting for him to crash. You don't get much excitement out here, this made my week. I've got something to tell the grand kids about when I get home tonight," the man, who did not want to be named, said.

Mr Symonds said a dog unit tracked in paddocks in the area. He said police spoke to a number of locals about what was happening and asked them to stay inside and keep an eye out for the man.

At least one property owner was asked to lock the doors.

Mr Symonds said calls from members of the public led police to the man. He said dogs were deployed and sniffed out a 23-year-old who was arrested in the area about 1.30pm.

"As usual we can't do anything without the help of the public," he said.

Mr Symonds said the man had warrants for his arrest but his "idiocy" means he now faces several other charges, including dangerous driving and failing to stop.

He will appear in Whangarei District Court today.