An Auckland man who allegedly led police on a 45-minute chase which included him driving on a wheelrim after a tyre was spiked has found himself being given a free ride to court.

The drama began with the theft of a 4x4 Nissan Terrano that was parked near Countdown Supermarket at the Okara Shopping centre yesterday.

An officer spotted the vehicle near BP on Riverside Dr and the driver allegedly failed to stop when signalled to pull over just after 11.30am and headed towards Pataua South.

With a number of police vehicles in pursuit the driver did a U-turn after reaching Pataua South and headed back towards Whangarei.

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The vehicle tyres were spiked but the driver continued to drive and was finally stopped near Awaroa Rd about 12.15pm. A 21-year-old man was arrested and the vehicle was towed.

He will appear in the Whangarei District Court today on charges of failing to stop, unlawfully taking a motorvehicle and being an unlicensed driver.

A motorist heading towards Parua Bay said she saw the four-wheel-drive come up over the hill near Solomon's Point.

"The front tyre was flapping all over the place and it stunk of rubber," she said. "There were about seven police cars following right behind."