Australian-born Miss Otago Monique Cooley assumed she qualified for Miss New Zealand automatically after living here for 12 years.
The Queenstown 22-year-old has been dragged into a beauty contest citizenship row after it was revealed newly crowned Miss Universe New Zealand Avianca Bohm may be stripped of her tiara because she is a South African.
Organisers today revealed Miss Cooley, the third runner up, was also ineligible for the crown because she is an Australian.
The beauty therapist told the Otago Daily Times she only found out about her possible ineligibility for the prize when her friend called her up and alerted her it had been in the news.
"I have never applied for it [citizenship], I assumed it was automatic.
"I have been living here for 12 years so I consider myself a New Zealand citizen.
Miss Cooley, who was born in Adelaide in 1990, moved to New Zealand when she was ten years old and did not realise she had to apply for citizenship.
She said she would be applying for citizenship as soon as she could, even if it meant doing some more paperwork while she was on holiday with her mother in Hawaii.
The pair flew out from Auckland at midday.