A dramatic police pursuit ended in a shower of debris and a dazed police officer emerging from his rammed police car to sit on the kerb as colleagues rushed to help him, a witness says.
Meanwhile, other officers quickly apprehended a man behind the wheel of vehicle earlier reported stolen and which had led police on a 22 kilometre journey — at times driving on the footpath — across Auckland this afternoon.
The incident came to an end in Knights Rd, in the North Shore's Rothesay Bay, just before 2.20pm and a resident of the street was there to see its final, startling moments.
The man was driving home from work when, about 100m east of Browns Bay Rd, he decided to do a u-turn and visit a friend.
As he was halfway through the turn, an unmarked police came up from the same direction, stopped and two officers threw spikes on the road.
The man completed his turn and watched, stunned, as the wanted vehicle, a white Holden Rodeo ute, came from behind and the driver tried to drive around the spikes.
He didn't make it — one wheel struck the spikes and, worse, he then collided with a second police car, which had just arrived on the scene, the witness told the Herald.
"It was head-on and [the driver of the ute] was easily doing 50km/h to 60km/h. Bits of plastic went up everywhere and the police car ended up being pushed back.
"It was like it happened all slow motion. I watched the whole thing happen and I was like 'what the hell?' ... it all happened within 10m of me."
He understood other officers were laying spikes nearby and a large number of police, including one with a police dog, were on the scene almost immediately after the crash.
"There were three cops that came up and made sure the [ute driver] was handcuffed ... he just surrendered ... and a few other cops went and saw the officer in the car. They sort of split up — half to the [ute driver] and half to the police officer."
The witness, who did not want to be named, said he also went to check on the police officer.
"He was fine but he was in a bit of shock. He got out of the vehicle and went to the sidewalk and sat down."
Police said in a statement earlier this afternoon the officer had been injured and "is being examined by paramedics, though the injuries are thought to be minor".
The driver, who the witness said was a man and who he also saw sitting in an ambulance following the crash, was in police custody and likely to face charges, police said.
Police earlier confirmed they received information about a stolen vehicle travelling on Tamaki Dr towards Auckland's central business district just before 2pm.
A pursuit began after the driver failed to stop for police on Quay St, but it was abandoned "shortly after due to the manner of driving", police said.
"Police attempted to re-engage in the pursuit one further time but abandoned immediately and the police Eagle helicopter was dispatched to monitor the vehicle from above."
A witness who saw part of the incident on Quay St said the driver "went on the footpath to get away from the cops".
The vehicle was later observed travelling north on the Northern Motorway, with the Eagle helicopter updating police on the ground of its location, police said.
Another Knights Rd resident, Grant Lemmon, told NZ Herald Focus he knew something was up before the crash.
"There were lots of police cars flying around, helicopters ... I'd heard the police cars with their engines really going for it."
He didn't see the crash, but heard it.
"It was loud ... [then] there were lots of sirens flying all over the place. Fifteen police cars turned up within 15 minutes."
Another witness, Bryce Lowe, emailed the Herald to say he saw the ute before the crash.
He was driving south on Medallion Dr, going past Oteha Valley School, when the ute came up behind him at speed.
"It went the wrong way around the round-about at the end of Fernhill Way, then crashed across the traffic island on the other side to get back on the left side of the road, and avoid oncoming traffic.
"It then continued to speed along Medallion Dr."
He saw two marked police cars, and what he believed was an unmarked police car following about 100m behind with "no lights, no sirens, having clearly called off the chase".
"I noted the Eagle helicopter was already circling around."
Meanwhile, the witness closest to the action when the incident ended told the Herald that after speaking with police he continued with his plans to visit his friend.
He later returned home, but was planning to go out socialising again this evening.
Although the incident hadn't changed his plans, he was still reflecting on how close he was as the drama unfolded on his normally quiet, suburban street.
The prevalence of parked cars on the street meant it was narrow further along from where he'd decided to turn around — potentially putting him in the ute's path.
"If I hadn't pulled that u-turn, I could've been the one that was hit."