Police cordons have now been lifted at Barrett Rd in Whakamarama after armed police swooped on the rural Tauranga area where explosions were heard this morning.

A police spokeswoman earlier said police and the Armed Offenders Squad were doing a search in the area, but would not release any further information.

A reporter at the scene said a couple of loud bangs that sounded like explosions were heard about 9.15am coming from behind the Whakamarama Superette, on the main highway between Tauranga and Katikati.

A Bay of Plenty Times reader who was travelling towards Tauranga at 8.30am said Barrett Rd, leading to State Highway 2, had been shut down and traffic was heavily backed up.

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The reporter said police had cordoned off Barrett Rd leading into Whakamarama Rd and people were not allowed into the Whakamarama superette on SH2.

"There is a scattering of police between Te Puna and Whakamarama."

A police communications spokeswoman said cordons had now been lifted at Barrett Road and inquiries were ongoing.