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A 25-year-old man surrendered to police this afternoon following a massive police callout near the north Otago town of Palmerston, where police were allegedly shot at.

The man, a 20-year-old woman and two toddlers were surrounded by armed offenders squad (AOS) members in a bushy area just off Horse Range Rd, north-east of Palmerston.

They had crashed a stolen Land Rover, believed to be driven by the woman, into a tree earlier and took off on foot across farmland, Southern District Acting District Commander Inspector Dave Campbell said.

The Land Rover was stolen from Christchurch two days ago and was believed to be related to a burglary that had occurred in Ashburton overnight, he said.

AOS members from Dunedin and Timaru, and a special tactics group from Christchurch, were flown to Palmerston after a shot was fired at two officers on side of road about 2pm as they were setting up road spikes for the vehicle, after it was spotted in Oamaru, Mr Campbell told Radio New Zealand.

He was not able to say how close the shot came to the officers.

"Pointing guns at police and reckless driving, it's not something you expect to happen in New Zealand."

Police had recovered one weapon and were looking for other possible weapons in the area.

No shots were fired by police in the incident, Mr Campbell said.

The man was taken into custody. The woman and children were being treated by medical personnel for minor injuries related to the vehicle crash.

Some farm houses were evacuated and Palmerston schools kept students in until the incident was over.

- NZPA