A stolen vehicle was driven into a river this afternoon sparking a land and water search for the occupants.

Police discovered the stolen vehicle was in the Maitai Valley Rd area of Nelson and, when trying to locate it, found it in the swollen Maitai River about 4pm, a spokesperson said.

One of the occupants in the vehicle left the scene and was tracked and located by a dog handler nearby but another person remained unaccounted for.

Swift Water Rescue were called to the scene because of the possibility that person was in the water.

Advertisement

The team searched the car and the river but did not find the second person, allaying fears they had been unable to get out.

"Police don't believe the person is in the water at this stage and enquiries are ongoing to locate them," a spokesperson said in a statement.

The vehicle was unable to be recovered tonight because of the river conditions.