A group of tourists on their way to the airport had their car keys taken by a member of the public near Arthur's Pass today.

The group, reportedly Chinese nationals, had to wait for Police to retrieve the keys before making their way to Christchurch to catch a flight out of the country.

They had stopped at road works by Klondyke Corner when a person in a following car took the keys from the driver, a Tasman Police District Command Centre spokeswoman said.

The member of the public then left and drove about 5km down the road, dropping the keys with people involved in the annual Coast to Coast endurance event.

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Police were alerted about 12.10pm and sometime later located and retrieved the keys.

The Police spokeswoman said after returning the keys, Police put a different person in the driver's seat and the tourists made their way to the airport.

She said Police are yet to talk to the person who took the keys.