An Auckland man has been sentenced to five years in prison after importing $8 million worth of drugs to be used to manufacture methamphetamine.

Sarawood Aemort, 32, was arrested and charged after Customs intercepted packages sent from China.

The NZ Customs Service said the packages were declared as gym equipment and computer desks.

However, on closer inspection, staff discovered almost 12kg of pseudoephedrine and ephedrine hidden inside. Those drugs are precursors to manufacture the Class A drug also known as P.

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In total, the packages have a street value of about $8 million.

A search warrant carried out at Aemort's home also yielded more bags of ephedrine and cash of up to $139,000.

Customs investigations manager, Maurice O'Brien said criminals were finding more and more ways to conceal drugs. However, vigilant staff made sure to catch them out.

"We have skilled people who know how to find things that look out of the ordinary and targeting tools in place to identify and stop consignments like these.''

O'Brien said drugs were usually hidden in legitimate items.

"But Customs continually updates its information and targeting to keep ahead,'' he said.

"This result is another good example of our systems at work to identify and prosecute those involved.''