Police are hunting for a knife-wielding assailant who attempted to rob the Highgate Dairy, on Highgate, Dunedin, tonight.

Full details were not immediately available, but the offender is believed to have run out of the shop about 6.45pm after he realised the shop staff member was not alone.

The shop was cordoned off and uniformed police officers could be seen making inquiries inside the premises.

A police dog handler and dog could later also be seen working in the area, and in a street north of the dairy, in an apparently unsuccessful effort to track the offender.

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This was the second similar offence at the dairy in the past three months.

Police were earlier seeking a masked assailant who robbed the dairy, after obscuring his face with a bandana and hooded jersey and demanding cash about 8.45pm on Saturday, May 7.

On that occasion the assailant demanded cash but left the store empty-handed and headed in a northerly direction on foot, police said.

The dairy, which also contains an adjoining residential flat, was also targeted by thieves in 2013.

On that occasion, three offenders broke in by smashing a glass door early in the morning.

They fled the scene when they were disturbed by an alarm.

Dunedin police (03) 471-4800, Crimestoppers 0800-555-111.