Outrage has turned to stunned delight after a top Paralympic sailor's stolen wheelchair was delivered to a Northland police station.

Chris Sharp, who competed in the Rio Paralympics and runs a nationwide training progamme for disabled sailors, was coaching in the Bay of Islands on Sunday when his custom-built wheelchair disappeared from Waitangi wharf.

Two children had been seen "hooning around" in the wheelchair in a nearby carpark before it vanished altogether some time between 11am and 2pm.

Friends and colleagues immediately posted about the theft on Facebook, sparking outrage and an outpouring of support. A search was soon underway with everyone from linesmen to meter readers pledging to keep an eye out for it.


Mr Sharp, who lives at Opito Bay near Kerikeri, said he couldn't do anything without a wheelchair so he drove to Auckland where he had an old spare in storage. He then started the long process of getting another custom-made wheelchair built.

However, about 10.45am today Mr Sharp received a call from Kaikohe police saying the missing wheelchair had been handed in.

Two children had taken the wheelchair from Waitangi wharf and were playing with it when their parents spotted then and demanded to know where it came from.

Thinking the wheelchair had been lost or stolen and dumped they took it first to Paihia police station, which was closed, then last night to Kaikohe police station, where they knew someone would be on duty.

Mr Sharp said he was "over the moon" to get his wheelchair back. He was planning to head back to Northland to collect it on Thursday.

The response he had received in the less than 24 hours it was missing was unbelievable, he said.

"It blew me away."

He commended the parents for taking responsibility for their children's actions, and doing what they thought was the best thing to get the wheelchair back to its rightful owner.