Taupō schools' lockdown lifts while officers continue to hunt 'person of interest'

A "person of interest" remains at large in the Taupō suburb of Hilltop after an earlier search for him sparked the mass lockdown of multiple schools.

Officers earlier placed a cordon around the hospital and schools, and parents could be seen parked up waiting for their children to be released well past the end of the school day. 

It's not yet known who the wanted man is or what he's wanted for but police said he remained at large on Thursday night.

Police were urging people to avoid the Hilltop area.
Police were urging people to avoid the Hilltop area. Photo credit: Newshub

"You know who you are, your family knows who you are and we know who you are, so let's get this squared away," Taupō Area Commander Insp Phil Edwards said in a statement.

"It's time to front-up as this isn’t going away, so it's best you come and see us at the Taupō Police station sooner rather than later.

"We know this has been incredibly unsettling for some people and I want to thank the community, the schools and the whānau who have been affected by this."

Police assured there was no wider risk to the community and said schools would reopen as usual on Friday.

People were earlier urged to avoid the Hilltop area and officers put cordons in place "on multiple streets".

Before the lockdowns lifted, officers were reportedly driving around streets in the area with a loudspeaker telling residents to "stay indoors".

At about 5pm, Tauhara Primary School, Taupō Intermediate School, Lake Taupō Christian School, and Tauhara College announced on Facebook their lockdowns had lifted.

Armed police stand outside Taupō Hospital.
Armed police stand outside Taupō Hospital. Photo credit: Newshub