A woman has spoken out about being stalked by a man in a "frightening and shocking" experience as she ran on a Rotorua track.
The woman says she feels robbed of her running passion and confidence after being followed by the man on a bike while running the Puarenga Park track on Monday afternoon.
When she realised she was being followed, she scrambled through bush to make her way on to the nearby Te Ngae Rd and ran to Sudima Hotel, where she got help from New Zealand Defence Force personnel working at the isolation hotel.
The end of the woman's ordeal was witnessed by Lynmore Primary School principal Lorraine Taylor, who was walking on Te Ngae Rd.
Taylor described the man as being "fixated" and "making a beeline" for the woman - actions which prompted her to take a photo on her phone.
The woman being followed, who only wanted to be known as "Rach", has spoken out to warn others to be careful.
Rach started her run from Puarenga Park at 4.32pm on Monday. When she was about 320m into the track she heard someone behind her on a bike. Initially, she wasn't concerned but thought it was odd the man was pedalling slowly and not passing.
She made a conscious decision to stop and check her watch, allowing him to pass.
She then carried on running, hoping he was ahead of her, but when she rounded a bend he was squatting down behind a tree trying to hide.
It was then she became afraid so stopped and looked at her watch again.
"I said out loud '500m turn around' cause I wanted him to think I was doing 500m splits."
Rach then ran back the way she came and scrambled through the bush and trees to climb up to Te Ngae Rd to be near traffic.
Instead of heading back to her car, which was at Puarenga Park, she ran towards Sudima Hotel, where she knew army personnel would be working.
As she ran along the Te Ngae Rd path, the man appeared again behind her on his bike, passing her slowly just before they reached Taylor walking alone on Te Ngae Rd.
Rach stopped Taylor and told her the man on the bike had been following her and to be careful.
The man went on ahead towards Fenton St and Rach said she thought she was safe, so she rang a friend and talked to her while running behind Sudima Hotel.
But when she reached Polynesian Spa, the man on the bike appeared behind her again.
Rach then ran up to the army personnel, who asked her if she was okay, and she burst into tears.
Taylor said when the man realised Rach had run behind Sudima Hotel, he did a u-turn.
"His eyes were fixated on her and that's when I panicked," Taylor said.
"He was definitely following her and making a beeline for her. He was targeting her most certainly. It was shocking and frightening."
Taylor said she took photos and ran around Sudima Hotel to see if she could help but realised the woman was safe when she saw her crying with the army personnel.
Rach contacted police and army staff drove her back to her car.
Rach said she often ran alone and although was always aware of her surroundings, she wasn't afraid and always ran with her phone.
Still shaken from her ordeal, Rach cried when the Rotorua Daily Post asked if she thought she would go running alone again.
"I'm angry that this person has taken some of my confidence away."
She said she felt strong in the belief that someone shouldn't take away her love of running alone.
"I'd like to think that's how I can feel but I'm not sure how it will go when I do decide to run again. I definitely won't run Puarenga Park alone again ever."
Inspector Phil Taikato of the Rotorua police said police were looking into the complaint. He said there's been no pattern of such behaviour in the area but he reminded anyone to ring 111 if it's urgent or 105 if it's not urgent.
Description of man on bike:
Māori or Polynesian
Aged between 18 and 20
Tall and slim
Wearing a white long sleeve top with long black pants, black cap and short hair underneath
Riding a bike and carrying a reusable black Pak'nSave bag