When a fleeing shoplifter jumped into a getaway car at Rotorua Central, Ray Holmes and Kevin Page stood in front of it to try to make it stop.

Then the unthinkable happened.

"He looked us in the eye, then gunned it, tried to mow us down," Page said.

The fleeing driver, who was helping a shoplifter escape from Rotorua Central on Saturday afternoon, aimed his vehicle at the pair and drove towards them at speed.

Ray Holmes (left) and Kevin Page were hit by a shoplifter's getaway driver in Central Mall on Saturday. Photo / Stephen Parker
Ray Holmes (left) and Kevin Page were hit by a shoplifter's getaway driver in Central Mall on Saturday. Photo / Stephen Parker

Police said they were still looking for the driver and shoplifter and were reviewing CCTV footage.

Page quickly turned but the car hit him. He fell to the ground and the wheel ran over his ankle and foot.

He said his steel work boots saved his foot from being crushed and miraculously he suffered just swelling and bruising.

"I can still hear the noise of [the wheel] running over me. It sounded like a bag of bones being crushed."

Holmes' quick reactions saved his life.

He jumped on to the car's bonnet and managed to get his fingers underneath the lip to hold on.

He clung on while the car sped off for about 15m, until the driver slammed on the brakes trying to make him fall off.

Holmes managed to jump off to one side safely - not before swearing and pulling the fingers at the car's occupants.

The pair said their natural reactions were to stop the car but they never imagined they were putting their lives at risk.

Holmes said the shoplifter ran from Bed Bath & Beyond with an armload of goods about 1.25pm on Saturday, closely followed by a store worker who was yelling "stop that girl".

Page said they could see the store worker trying to prise open the door of the car to get the woman to stop.

But the man driving the car reversed out of the park, which was close to the Smith's City store entrance in the centre island, and went to drive away.

Page and Holmes, who don't know each other, stood in front of it with their arms up signalling for it to stop.

"It was only about 2-3m away from us. It slowed down and then he just gunned it."

"I could see him [Holmes] out the corner of my eye. He was there and then he was gone and I thought, they've killed that guy. How he didn't get killed, I don't know.

"I was trying to get up but I couldn't feel my legs," Page said.

Holmes said when they came towards him he just jumped as high as he could.

"He was going to take my legs out and it was lucky I got a finger grip on the bonnet."

Page added: "Within the space of 60 seconds, you saw the best and the worst of Rotorua. From the shoplifter and driver trying to run us over to quickly there being an ambulance, police and members of the public trying to help."

Yesterday the two men caught up with the Rotorua Daily Post and exchanged how they felt about the drama.

"The last I saw him [Mr Page] he was in a bad way and being driven off by the ambulance."

Holmes, a builder, said his team had been calling him Lethal Weapon this week.

Page joked that if Holmes ever needed a movie audition tape, he should get his hands on the CCTV footage.

"Tom Cruise will snap you up, mate."