An Australian cruise ship passenger accused of sexually assaulting a woman on a vessel bound for Dunedin has denied the allegation and been allowed to return home to await trial.

Sydney man Elias Azzi, 23, appeared in the Dunedin District Court this morning facing a charge of sexual violation, which carries a maximum prison term of 20 years.

He was previously granted bail to a central Dunedin hotel when he was charged this week, and today Judge Michael Crosbie varied the conditions so he could return home to his family.

According to court documents, the alleged attack took place between Tauranga and Dunedin on January 3.


It was alleged to have taken place on the 168,666-tonne Ovation of the Seas, the largest cruise ship to visit New Zealand, Royal Caribbean Cruises confirmed.

The company said it was co-operating fully with police.

"When one of our guests reported an alleged sexual assault on board Ovation of the Seas we contacted the New Zealand police."

Azzi, a New South Wales demolition worker, was bailed to a New South Wales address but ordered to return to New Zealand for all court hearings.

He was ordered to abstain from alcohol or drugs and has to report to the Merrylands police station three times a week.

Judge Crosbie also said Azzi was not to contact the complainant or four witnesses and was not to leave Australia aside from court appearances.

He is next due in Dunedin District Court in March.

Last month, a 33-year-old man was arrested over another alleged sex attack related to a cruise ship docked in Dunedin.

He was charged with rape and sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection over the alleged December 12 attack.

The defendant is scheduled to appear again next week.