Police are hunting a man who robbed a woman driving from Tauranga to Taupo this afternoon.

The woman, alone in her car, had stopped on the side of the road and was about to drive off when a man appeared from nowhere, opened the passenger door and demanded money.

He snatched the small amount of cash the woman offered from her purse, got out of the car and slammed the door.

His frightened victim drove off.

Police said the man was a Caucasian aged between 40 and 50.

The incident occurred on State Highway 5 near the Wairakei Village turnoff just north of Taupo.