A man has been arrested for allegedly hiding a knife behind his belt buckle while going through Customs at Queenstown Airport.

Queenstown Senior Sergeant Paula Enoka said the 53-year-old New Zealander was travelling to Wellington about 2pm yesterday when he was stopped at security before boarding an Air New Zealand flight.

He set off a security screening alarm, and a metal detector wand was used to find the knife.

"It's not normal to have a weapon or knife on you especially going through a [airport] screening point,'' Enoka said.

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Police said when asked why he had a knife, the man replied: "I didn't want to lose it.''

Police did not know what kind of knife it was.

A man will appear in court on January 16 charged with possessing an offensive weapon.