The family of missing autistic man Nigel Peterson say their "hope is fading badly" as the search continues.

He was seen jumping out of a car on Otonga Rd at 3pm on Friday, running towards Old Taupo Rd.

Nigel was living under 24-hour care and has never spent this much time alone.

His father, Chris Peterson, said today that he was worried about his son's condition, which could be deteriorating because he had been without his medication.

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"Our hope is fading badly."

Nigel's family and a search party of 18 police officers and volunteers are exhausting all options and have widened the search area to outside Rotorua.

"We think he might have injured himself and has found himself trapped somewhere. He grew up on a farm and loves open spaces so we'll expand our search to those areas outside of the city as well," Chris said.

Constable John Fredericksen said police did not have any leads as to Nigel's whereabouts.

"We urge all residents in Rotorua to check their backyards, sheds and any other hiding spots where he may have gone."

Fredericksen said he was surprised the 33-year-old hadn't "popped up" but hoped his instincts would kick in soon.

"He'll be feeling really hungry by now so hopefully he'll address that issue and come out in the open."

Fredericksen said search efforts would continue to intensify throughout the week.

"We will exhaust our resources as time goes by and will seek support from the Taupo and Tauranga police forces as we search across the wider Bay of Plenty region."

Fredericksen is asking anyone who has picked up a hitchhiker or seen someone looking for a ride since Friday to contact the Rotorua police.

"If he came in contact with the public he would definitely stand out so if anyone has noticed any odd behaviour they should report it straight away."

If anyone has any information on the whereabouts of Nigel, call 111 immediately.