A 12-year-old drove from Northland to Puhoi after taking a car from a Whangarei caregiver, before the car he was driving had its tyres spiked.
A police spokesperson said the car was spotted about 2am on Thursday, south of Whangarei.
Police were aware that a 12-year-old boy was at the wheel, and that he had taken the car from his caregivers in Whangarei shortly after 12am.
Police followed for some time, at a distance, wary of spooking the young driver.
"Although the car was not driving at high speed, the driver was obviously struggling to stay within the right lane - an indication of the driver's inexperience behind the wheel."
Police followed the car without attempting to stop the vehicle.
This was due to a lack of other drivers on the road, concerns about the driver's inexperience and the risk this could pose to other road users.
Near Warkworth, police signalled to the driver to stop. However the 12-year-old kept going.
In the meantime, North Shore police had travelled to Puhoi and laid road spikes, which successfully deflated the car's tyres.
The vehicle stopped shortly after on Waiwera Hill, about 115km from Whangarei.
The boy was taken into custody and has been referred to Youth Aid and Oranga Tamariki.
"This is a good example of cool heads and reasoned decision making in action," Inspector Kai Shao said.
"The staff managing this incident had a wide range of factors to take into account, not only with the driver and the incident unfolding, but also the difficulties officers can face working across two different districts and the logistics that involves.
"This incident had potential to end very differently due to the age and inexperience of the driver.
"The spikes were set up in a safe area to ensure members of the public were not at risk and excellent communication between staff meant all involved knew where they had to be in order to take action.''