A false report of a man with a gun led to armed police cordoning off a large part of Rotorua's CBD - and the evacuation of the Community Corrections building.
Rotorua police area prevention manager Inspector Stuart Nightingale said police responded to a report of suspicious behaviour in the vicinity of the Haupapa St building about 11.15am today.
He said a Corrections client had reported to staff a sighting of a man nearby with a gun.
Mr Nightingale said police quickly put in place tight cordons and ensured officers were equipped with firearms.
Police cordoned off Haupapa St between Fenton and Amohia Sts, as well as part of Amohia St. Officers with large guns stopped traffic and pedestrians from entering the area.
Mr Nightingale said inquiries with the man involved established there was "no substance to his concerns".
"He was taken to the police station for a better conversation and released without charge."
Mr Nightingale said police responded quickly and took the appropriate safety measures, as did the Department of Corrections.
"It was a good opportunity for police to act quickly and safely within the CBD to make sure the public and business owners were kept safe."
Local man William Worthington was there when it began.
"I went to walk into the [Community Corrections] building and everyone started coming out, they were being evacuated.
"Everyone was calm to begin with until the police turned up with guns and dogs. I veered off to get away from the scene."
Another man at the cordon, who did not wish to be named, said police entered the building with dogs about 12pm. About 5-10 minutes later they came out with two officers dragging a man between them. He was placed into a police car, which immediately left the scene.
Minutes later, the cordons were removed.
An English woman in the city said she had only been in New Zealand a week, and Rotorua for four days.
She was walking back to her hostel when she was blocked by the cordon.
"It's a bit mental," she said. "In England this doesn't happen much."
She said she wasn't too concerned as there was such a big police presence at the scene and they were "straight on to it" with "massive guns".
"It's one to tell the friends [back home] about."
Department of Corrections district manager Vickie Burgers said all staff working at the Community Corrections building were safe and returned to work following the incident.
She confirmed the building was evacuated for a short period of time.