Hahna Lavarre was stunned and scared when her car caught on fire while driving to work.

The Papamoa woman was driving between Papamoa and Tauranga when her car started idling before smoke and flames started billowing from it. She had dropped her 3-year-old daughter at daycare moments before.

Lavarre said she parked up in the nearest safest spot, which was at Papamoa Plaza, and jumped out of her car. She was surrounded by smoke and saw flames underneath her car and under the bonnet.

"I could see smoke coming from everywhere," Lavarre said.

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"Paint all over the bonnet had just completely melted," she said.

"I saw flames underneath the car."

She bought the car privately about five days ago and had not had any trouble with it in that short timeframe. However, she said she could see fuel on the road where her car started idling, ending where she parked.

"I was near McDonald's; everyone in the window and everyone else saw the car. McDonald's staff were so great, they came out with a hose and a fire extinguisher.

"I was stunned.

"You could see a trail of fuel where I was idling to where I parked up."

She said she was grateful her daughter was not in the car with her.


"It could've been a whole lot worse."

A Fire Service spokesman said the fire was out when firefighters arrived and they did not need to take action.

Lavarre had the rest of the day off as she was unable to get to work and was unsure what she would do now she no longer had a vehicle.