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Police borrowed a thermal camera from firefighters to find the driver of a car hiding on the banks of the Waikato River after the car he was driving plunged into the river.

Police tried to pull the car over about 11.30pm on Monday in the Hamilton suburb of Fairfield but the driver sped off, went through a T-junction and into the river, a statement from police says.

The only two passengers, a 19-year-old female and 41-year-old male, were found with moderate injuries near the upturned car.

Police believe the man, who was wanted for unpaid fines, was trying to hide from them as he was found lying underneath the woman.

The driver, a 29-year-old man, was spotted by police swimming away from the car.

Police launched a rescue boat and arranged support from the Waikato River harbour master to put a second boat in the water.

The man was found two hours later in the river clinging to the bank and suffering from hypothermia.

Police used the thermal camera to find the man, who was wanted on a parole recall warrant, after a police dog smelt him out.

Methamphetamine and $1200 in cash was found in the crashed rental car.

All three were taken to Waikato Hospital.