A first-time visitor to New Zealand could swap a hotel room for a jail cell after Customs officers found 2.3kg of methamphetamine hidden in a false bottom suitcase.

The 44-year-old foreign national arrived on a flight from Thailand on Saturday, and was arrested after x-rays led to the discovery of a white crystalline substance.

Customs Investigations manager Bruce Berry said the arrest was testament to the work carried out by Customs.

"In this instance, the passenger was questioned during a routine baggage search where the Customs officer established enough from the interaction to warrant further examination."

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Berry said methamphetamine is a "main choice" for drug syndicates because New Zealand demands a high price, making it a desirable market for criminals.

"Methamphetamine causes serious social and economic issues and Customs is committed to preventing it and any other drugs from getting past our borders and on to our streets."

The man has been charged with importing and possession for supply of a class A drug, and faces a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

He has appeared in the Manukau District Court.