The arrival at Queenstown Airport of new head of Customs John Parker has coincided with a run of Aussie tourists being turned away.
Four Aussies have been denied entry to the country at Queenstown in recent weeks – including a man understood to have been involved in the infamous Milperra Massacre.
The 1984 gun battle between rival motorcycle gangs the Comancheros and Bandidos in a Sydney suburb left seven people dead. They included six gang members and a 14-year-old girl who was a bystander.
Other Australian arrivals sent back over the ditch include a 29-year-old waitress, who flew in with her partner at 6pm last Friday.
Queenstown sergeant Keith Newall says the woman was searched and found to be carrying prescription drugs which belonged to someone else.
“Everyone should know you don’t take prescription drugs, or any drugs, into another country for someone else,” Newall says.
“Check your bags before you travel.”
The woman spent a night in the cells before returning to Australia the next day at her own expense. A 32-year-old Australian man had the same short holiday in Queenstown police cells on Monday night. He was also subject to a ‘turnaround’ for an unknown reason after arriving at 8pm.
Newall says: “He was put on a plane this morning – he’d been refused entry by Customs and spent the night in the cells.”
Parker, who started in the role in May, is one of New Zealand’s most experienced customs managers, with 40 years in the job.
Wood you believe it
A series of firewood thefts have left Queenstowners fuming and out of pocket.
Up to 50 large wood rings were brazenly pinched from Wynyard Crescent, Fernhill, last Thursday night.
Sergeant Mark Gill says: “A large van or truck has driven up to the back property, someone has loaded up the wood and driven off.”
Council staff had felled three pine trees in a nearby reserve and given the firewood to a resident who had recently had his own stash nicked.
Other firewood thefts have occurred in Frankton and Kelvin Heights worth thousands of dollars in total. Police have warned residents to be on their guard, install security lights and spray paint their wood.
(Alleged) drunks and punks
A 22-year-old Otago University student was arrested after allegedly becoming abusive to staff at SkyCity Queenstown Casino at 1am on Sunday. He refused to leave and police were called. When he allegedly continued to be abusive he was arrested and charged with disorderly behaviour.
A 60-year-old Whataroa man was processed for drink driving after allegedly being seen weaving across the centre line of State Highway 6 in Frankton in his car on Monday night at 8pm.
The man blew 777 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath. The legal limit is 400. His licence was suspended for 28 days and he will appear in court at a later date.
A Wanaka 26-year-old faces a criminal record after allegedly stealing a meat pie from Fresh Choice on Gorge Road.
The man was arrested at 5.40pm on Tuesday and charged with theft.
A 25-year-old American man has been charged with possession of cannabis when police allegedly found a small amount in his possession.
Officers were called to a Frankton Road address at 3.30am on Wednesday morning on an unrelated matter.
Sergeant Gill says: “It was a small amount consistent with personal use.”