Queenstown security operation to begin as visit of 'very, very important person' looms

It is understood the operation will centre on Arrowtown. Photo / 123rf.com
It is understood the operation will centre on Arrowtown. Photo / 123rf.com

A police security operation for the visit of a major political figure to Queenstown this weekend is expected to swing into action tomorrow after months of hush-hush preparation.

Several well-placed sources told the Otago Daily Times the operation to protect the "very, very important person" will involve twice the number of officers used for the visit of Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to the resort two months ago.

The security detail for Operation Silver Fern will include members of the police special tactics group and more than a dozen staff from Christchurch.

It is understood the operation will centre on Arrowtown, will continue for about a week, and golf will figure on the visitor's itinerary.

A request to Police Commissioner Mike Bush for information was forwarded to a media adviser, who said police did not discuss security matters "in general".

"However, we are not aware of a visit to Queenstown by a former head of state."

Otago Lakes Central area commander Inspector Olaf Jensen did not respond to an email asking about the operation.

Queenstown, and Arrowtown in particular, have long been a magnet for international figures.

Former United States president Bill Clinton stayed at Millbrook Resort in 1999 after an Apec leaders' meeting in Auckland.

When contacted about this weekend's visit, Teresa Chapman, personal assistant to Millbrook Resort founder Eiichi Ishii, said guests had the "privilege of confidentiality".

Other high profile visitors to the resort in recent years include the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who spent a night at Matakauri Lodge in 2014.

American singer Taylor Swift spent several days in the resort in 2015, holidaying with family and filming a music video.

- Otago Daily Times

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