Police and LandSAR teams were searching fields near Balclutha last night for a missing 79-year-old Romahapa man.

Ian Mathieson was reported missing at 1am yesterday and his car was found stuck and abandoned in a paddock at the end of a farmer's race near State Highway 1 about 4pm, Sergeant Martin Bull, of Balclutha, said.

"He's got stuck in a paddock and there's some footprints around the vehicle that indicate he's walked up the race, but there's no sign of him at this stage."

Mr Mathieson left a Clinton Lions Club meeting about 8pm on Wednesday and was heading home to Romahapa, but he became "disoriented" and never made it there.

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His wife reported him missing. His black 2009 Nissan Maxima was the subject of a search of back roads that lasted about 15 hours before a farmer noticed Mr Mathieson's car in his paddock.

The car had been driven 3km down the farmer's race in Carterhope Rd.

The farmer alerted police, and search and rescue crews from Owaka, Balclutha and Milton were called to look for Mr Mathieson, Sgt Bull said.

Mr Mathieson was diabetic, Sgt Bull said.

Police believed he became lost while driving home.

"He's got a condition that indicates to us certain patterns of behaviour."

Mr Mathieson was seen about 8.30pm on Wednesday in Mill Rd off State Highway 1 between Clinton and Balclutha and was reported to be disoriented, Sgt Bull said.

He was seen again, further west, on nearby Moa Hill Rd, where he stopped briefly.

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"It was a man he knew and they had a good talk for a while," Sgt Bull said.

"There was no indication that he was lost when he was talking to that person, but we believe he was lost."