Police launched a manhunt in Gate Pa last night after a man fled from his crashed car.

Northern communications Inspector Andy Brill said police tried to pull over a car in Gate Pa at about 8.20pm but the driver fled.

The short car chase came to an abrupt end when the man crashed the black Subaru Forester he was driving down a hill and through a fence on a nearby street - much to the shock of the property owners, whose home was only metres away.

"We felt it. We thought they'd hit the house because the whole house shook," home owner Brent Brosnan told the Bay of Plenty Times.

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"There was a huge crash and a shudder."

Mr Brosnan and his wife Cherie ran outside to find the car with the engine still running, smoke billowing from the bonnet but the driver gone.

"We just saw a cop run down the stairs and chase him around the side of the house."

The couple grabbed a fire extinguisher for the car before more police, two fire trucks and an ambulance arrived.

Mr Brosnan said they were lucky the car had crashed through the wooden fence and into a concrete wall, stopping it short from plummeting through their guest room wall.

"I was shaken up for a bit," Mrs Brosnan said of the ordeal.

Police spread around the area, parking in surrounding streets to form a loose cordon. Police dog units were also called to the scene.

Local residents stood outside their homes watching the drama unfold.

Police were still searching for the man when the Bay of Plenty Times went to print.