Police have warned Dunedin residents against joining in the clown craze sweeping the world after a man in a clown costume terrorised residents in the city's student quarter.
A 22-year-old man was arrested and given a pre-charge warning and another was spoken to by police after they roamed North Dunedin streets, one of them dressed as a clown and both wearing masks.
Students have described their terrifying encounters with the clown as he brandished what appeared to some to be a machete, stood staring into windows and banged on doors late on Sunday.
The "creepy clown'' craze has been linked to threats and violence in the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom.
Senior Sergeant Ben Butterfield said police had a message for anyone who had considered taking part in the prank.
"Don't do it. People are risking some fairly serious charges for doing these things.''
University of Otago student Kate Steele was at friend's house in Castle St after 10pm on Sunday when the clown entered the property's yard.
"He stared at us through the window and tried to come into the house,'' she said.
The man was dressed in a clown costume and wearing a mask like that of the killer from the movie Scream.
"He was standing there holding whatever it was that he was holding. We thought it was a knife, so we were so scared,'' she said.
Flatmates Lauren Dodd and Ella Berlin were at home just down the road when the "clown'' entered their property shortly after terrifying Miss Steele.
"He just started banging on the door for about 20 seconds and then the police came,'' Miss Dodd said.
By the time he reached their house, he was wearing a clown mask and was followed by his friend, who was wearing the Scream mask, Miss Berlin said.
"We were all screaming and running around like headless chickens,'' she said.
By the time police arrived, his friend had fled. After speaking to officers for about 15 minutes, the "clown'' left with them in a patrol car.
Snr Sgt Butterfield said police encouraged anyone who saw anything similar to call them immediately.
The incident in North Dunedin followed an attack on a Hamilton woman by two men dressed as clowns earlier this month.