A high-powered hunting crossbow fired from outside the Rotorua Airport was the reason the airport was forced to close for three-and-a-half hours yesterday.

Rotorua Airport chief executive Mark Gibb said airport staff found the arrow sticking out of the grass near the northern end of the runway during a routine inspection of the runway and surrounding area.

Gibb said from the trajectory of the bolt, it was believed to have been fired from about 100m outside the airport boundary.

"It had been fired within a 40-minute timeframe of the last inspection. Routinely we inspect the runway for any foreign matter. It's clear from the trajectory where it has been fired from."

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Gibb said two flights had to be cancelled as a result of the airport's closure, significantly disrupting travel plans for passengers.

"We were extremely unhappy that someone has chosen to do this. Police believe it was a one-off act of stupidity and there was no intentional or more heavy motive.

"But it was a very serious incident to have this thing fired around the airfield."

Rotorua police crime prevention manager Inspector Brendon Keenan said police went door-to-door to about 10 houses in the area where the bolt was believed to have been fired from but did not find who was responsible.

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