McCauley Stratford has become a regular sleepwalker in the last year - but his latest adventure has astonished and horrified his parents.

The 7-year-old climbed out of his upstairs bedroom window, plunged 4m on to a gravel driveway and broke his leg. He then managed to haul himself to a house 100m away where he climbed into a stranger's bed - all without waking up.

Last night he was back home with his leg in a cast, much to the relief of his parents. "I burst into tears of joy," said father, Rhys. "I wouldn't wish it on anybody."

Stratford and wife Gemma went to check on McCauley - the third of their six children - at their Foxton home about 10pm Friday.

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When they discovered he had vanished they called police, sparking an eight-hour search.

"It was absolutely devastating," said Stratford. "You put your boy to bed and check on him and he's not there."

At its peak, more than 50 volunteers joined a frantic 1km search area, including the fire brigade, security guards, ambulance officers, neighbours and a specialist search and rescue team.

The home became a "bombsite" as police officers hunted for clues to the mystery disappearance.

It wasn't until early Saturday when a boy in the nearby house woke that he found he had an unexpected bedmate and alerted his caregiver.

"He went to his aunty and said, 'There's a stranger in my bed'," said Stratford. McCauley was reunited with his family at 5am yesterday.

Stratford said McCauley started sleepwalking a year ago but had only ever wandered around the house. He had never ventured outside.

"I just want to give my sincere thanks to everyone that pitched in overnight.

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"We just felt so helpless. We've had people we don't know come around and say they helped search and they are so happy he is home and safe and well."

Foxton deputy fire chief Michael Clement said searchers were thrilled McCauley had been found.

"It's so satisfying that there wasn't a tragic ending to it.

"It's not hard to imagine the worst when a child has been missing between 10pm and 5am so this is a great outcome."

Stratford said the family would take McCauley to see a specialist to investigate the sleepwalking - and he would be doing a spot of DIY.

"The safety latches are going on the window today."

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