A dangerous offender with a distinctive facial tattoo is on the loose.

Police believe Michael John Hughes, who is wanted for several theft charges, is armed and travelling around the South Island in a stolen Subaru Impreza station wagon with the registration number AUP920.

They said members of the public should not approach the 36-year-old and should call 111 immediately if they see him.

Hughes has committed offences in Blenheim, Christchurch, Oamaru and Dunedin.