A day-long manhunt has led to the arrest of a man alleged to have aimed a high-powered rifle at people near the coastal settlement of Te Awaiti.

The Armed Offenders Squad, dog handlers and a police helicopter were deployed in the search for the man, which began shortly before 10am yesterday after police received several reports of an armed man in the area.

Te Awaiti farmer Bridget Mathewson said she rang the police after two men came to her farm and said a man had pointed a high-powered rifle at them.

The men told her they had stopped at the top of the hill as they realised there would be no further cellphone coverage.

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When they stopped a Maori man parked in a blue car pointed a rifle at them and looked through the scope at them, she said.

The men ducked and took off to the Mathewson farm, where they sought help from Mrs Mathewson.

She was home alone so she contacted her husband on the radio and asked him to come down off the farm.

The couple rang police and alerted the school.

She believed a tattooed, shirtless man, in his 20s had been arrested at Te Awaiti.

A spokesman from the Wellington district command centre confirmed a man had been arrested shortly before 5pm and was being interviewed by police.

He could not confirm if the man had a gun when he was arrested but said the public could be reassured all was safe.