A ship found to be carrying moths has been stopped from entering New Zealand waters.

The ANL Warragul was expected to arrive in the Port of Tauranga early today after leaving Sydney but was stopped after dead and live moths were found on board.

A Ministry for Primary Industries spokeswoman said if a moth was found to be regulated, the vessel would not be allowed to enter New Zealand.

"We haven't identified the moths yet, so we don't whether they're regulated or not. The vessel is currently outside the 12 nautical mile mark, so they're not currently in New Zealand territorial waters."

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The ANL Warragul was due to depart the Port of Tauranga for Pape'ete, Tahiti at 10pm tonight but this has been changed and the vessel was now scheduled to depart for Tahiti on Thursday.