The start of the warmer spring weather will herald the beginning of the cannabis cultivating season in the Bay of Plenty - leading to police fears of a spike in other criminal offending.
Detective Senior Sergeant John Wilson of the Bay of Plenty Police said at this time criminals involved in the cultivation of cannabis would be out and about in rural areas getting their crops started.
"Cultivating cannabis is about organised crime and the damage it does to our communities," he said.
In a statement, police said each year around this time there would be a spike in activity in rural areas, in particular on land such as the Department of Conservation estate and in plantation forests.
In the Bay of Plenty there are vast tracts of land in remote locations which lent themselves to covert and criminal activity, police said.
"As well as the obvious issues with the illegal cultivation of cannabis, having unauthorised people in plantation forests poses a significant risk to other forest users, and the cultivators themselves, given the very real workplace hazards which exist in this environment."
Along with growing cannabis, having criminals active in these areas meant an increase in other offending such as rural burglaries, fuel thefts, theft of quad bikes and electric fence units, and damage to property, police said.
"Many minimise the harmful effects of cannabis when compared against other drugs, but make no mistake, cannabis is the 'entry level' drug of choice in New Zealand. All too often it is the starting point from which users go on to other more harmful drugs," Mr Wilson said.
Police are asking the public to help them by identifying areas where cannabis is being grown and those responsible for growing it.
"Tell tale signs include vehicles parked in unusual and secluded locations at odd times, signs of human activity in remote spots where you would not normally expect people to be, and items like plastic water bottles discarded in the bush."
If anyone comes across anything suspicious like this, or knows of someone they believe is involved in the cultivation of cannabis they should contact the Bay of Plenty Police on (07) 3499400.
Alternatively information can be provided anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.