Armed police were called to the Northland town of Kawakawa today, but did not make any arrests.
Senior Sergeant Brian Swann said cordons were being put in place for a man who had run away from police.
A police spokesman confirmed no arrests were made but the search had been "completed".
He said no further comment would be made as "this incident is operationally sensitive and enquiries are ongoing".
A Kawakawa businessman said he saw two police officers running behind a man about noon through the main street.
Traffic coming south through Kawakawa was being stopped from turning left onto SH11 towards Opua.
Police set up mobile headquarters in Johnson Park at the junction of SH1 and SH11, and were stopping and searching all cars entering Kawakawa from North Rd.
Southbound traffic on SH1 was backed up beyond the Three Bridges, although the SH1/SH11 junction has now been re-opened.
A witness reported seeing the wanted man, who he said was from the Kawakawa-Moerewa area, running from police behind Carter's tyre shop on Kawakawa's main street.
He believed the wanted man had escaped by running across paddocks and jumping into the swift-flowing Kawakawa River.
It is the second time in as many days the specialist Armed Offenders Squad has been called to a Northland community.
Yesterday, the Armed Offenders Squad were called to Ahipara after shots were fired at a house.
The man involved was not found although a firearm and vehicle had been recovered.
The Ahipara school and a daycare centre were locked down during the incident.
Police confirmed they were looking for a person who is wanted by police on a matter completely unrelated to yesterday's Ahipara incident.