Armed police who last night responded to reports of a man carrying a gun down a Tauranga driveway indeed found a weapon - but not one they were expecting.

Tauranga Police senior sergeant Carl Purcell said armed police were called out to the Greerton property at 6.30pm in response to what a witness had described as a man carrying what was believed to be a rifle.

But when police arrived and stopped a vehicle that had left the address, they discovered the object had been something else.

"The item described by the informant turned out to be a ceremonial axe that had been taken to the address and given to the occupants," he said.

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The person in the vehicle was released without charge.