A man broke into an Ashburton service station with a sledgehammer before fleeing in a vehicle, rammed a security guard's car and a police car, and left two stolen cars burning, police say.
They said a man in a stolen vehicle pulled up to the service station about 4.30am on Friday before using a sledgehammer to break in, and stole some items.
He then drove off in the stolen vehicle and headed to Hinds and rammed the car of a security guard that tried to follow them.
The stolen vehicle then headed towards Mayfield. A police patrol disrupted the man's attempts to commit a second burglary and the person rammed the police car, causing significant damage, police said.
The car was later found set on fire in Mt Somers, but the man was seen again avoiding police spikes in a second stolen vehicle near Christchurch airport.
They said they followed the second car but abandoned the chase because the man was driving dangerously. That car was later found - also burning - in Bryndwyr.
They said a 42-year-old man in a different vehicle was later pulled over and taken into custody on another matter.
Police said they were appealing for information - particularly dash-mounted camera footage - after the events on Friday.
They said they were hoping to find a blue 4x4 with a large LED light bar on the front, and urged anyone with information to contact Detective Clare of Ashburton police on 021 191 1568 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.