A vehicle described as "fair hoofing it" and driving on the wrong side of the road crashed and flipped on its roof near Rotorua after earlier being chased by police.
The man driving the vehicle was in a serious condition.
The crash has happened opposite the Commercial Vehicle Safety Centre at Rotokawa on State Highway 30, north east of Rotorua on Wednesday.
One lane was blocked while emergency services surrounded the car, which was in the ditch.
A police media spokeswoman said road spikes had been laid ahead of where the vehicle crashed.
She said the vehicle was earlier involved in a pursuit with police but wasn't being pursued at the time of the crash, although there were police were following close behind.
The incident had been referred to the Idependent Police Conduct Authority.
Police said in a statement it received a report of a petrol drive off from a service station on State Highway 5, near Waiotapu Loop Rd about 9.15am.
A short time later police found the vehicle involved in the theft being driven on SH5 near Hemo Rd, Whakarewarewa.
Police tried to pull over the vehicle, but the driver failed to stop.
Police began to follow the driver but stopped a short time later due to the manner of his driving.
About 9.45am the driver crashed on State Highway 30.
A man who lives in the area said he was walking on the road and heard a loud bang.
A spokeswoman for St John said one person was in a serious condition. He was treated at the scene and later taken away in an ambulance to Rotorua Hospital.
Earlier, a Rotorua Daily Post reporter at the scene said emergency services working on the injured driver had removed a door of the upturned vehicle.
A motorist passing by told the Rotorua Daily Post he had seen a vehicle about 30 minutes earlier doing what he believed was about 140km/h on Sala St and Devon St.
"The man said he rang police because the car was weaving in and out of traffic."
A woman, who only wanted to be known as Adele, said she was leaving her parents' house just past the safety centre at Rotokawa when a car pulled into the middle of the road coming towards her at speed to overtake vehicles.
She was heading into town taking her 3-year-old to kohanga reo.
She said two red police cars were chasing the car with lights and sirens on. She said her heart immediately jumped when she saw the car heading towards her.
"Only because I had my baby in the car, the adrenaline started straight away."
"My daughter knew what was happening and was saying 'mummy, mummy, the police cars, why are they going so fast?'," Adele said.
"I was hanging up my daughter's bag and my mum rang all worried because that car (the one that crashed) looks a lot like mine. She heard the bang after I left and was worried it was me."
Another witness called Brendon, who didn't want his surname published, was driving on Te Ngae Rd when he heard on the truck radios in his car that truck drivers in the area were warning of a dangerous driver on Te Ngae Rd.
Then moments later Brendon said he saw the driver. "He was fair hoofing it".
"One of the drivers said on the CB 'f**k look out of the way'.
"I have no sympathy for them if they are going to do stupid things like that."
Jo Dudson, who lives opposite the crash site, said she didn't see or hear anything however she said she believed the police should be praised.
"They do a fantastic job stopping these kind of people because today someone could have easily been killed."
The Serious Crash Unit will be investigating the crash.
The road remains open with traffic control in place, but motorists should expect some delays.