Caregivers are being urged to keep their doors and gates locked after a 3-year-old boy went for a walk yesterday morning to find his dad, some 7km away.
The boy went only 300m before he found someone who would walk with him. He was found by Dave Apete, who saw the boy in his Mill St, Koutu, driveway.
"I've never seen him before," Mr Apete said.
"He was walking around the corner of my house as I pulled in to the driveway. He said he lived nearby, 'just over there', he said. Just over there became a couple of kilometres."
He said he called police when he had reached the cycleway crossing at Kawaha Point Rd.
"We could have been walking to Ngongotaha for all I knew. I've got three kids myself, the youngest is 12 and I would be worried if he got lost."
As the pair were waiting for police, Kawaha Point resident Tiaan Flavell, 18, was cycling past and recognised the boy. He said he was a sibling of children on a holiday programme he helped out on last year.
"I was quite surprised to see him," he said. Mr Flavell ended up calling the holiday programme co-ordinator who was able to tell police where the boy lived. They drove to Ngongotaha where his dad lives but it turned out he was staying with a caregiver in Westloch Rd, Koutu.
Rotorua police Constable Dylan Stevenson said the boy was noticed missing around the time they were called by Mr Apete, around 8.30am.
"It's likely he got himself dressed and got out through one of the doors," he said.
"He'd been staying with a caregiver for a couple of days but he was looking for his dad.
"It was awesome to reunite him with his caregiver. It brightened up our day. He was a cute wee trooper. It's lucky he found someone who was able to look after him until we arrived."