The principal of a top private school in the North Island says boarders could be to blame for an outbreak of a diarrhea and vomiting bug at the school.

The outbreak at St Peter's School in Cambridge has led to 45 students being sent home.

Principal Dale Burden told the Herald this morning the outbreak was picked up last week and led to 44 boarders and one day student being sent home for diarrhea, vomiting and associated symptoms.

Burden said the cause of the outbreak was unknown, but it could have been brought to the school by boarders from Rotorua or anywhere else.

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Burden said the school's four nurses were keeping track of data, which showed the outbreak was probably peaking now and trending downwards.

He was confident the measures put in place around educating pupils and providing care meant the outbreak was under control.

St Peter's is the largest boarding school in New Zealand on a single site with 480 of the 1150 pupils boarders. It is a private, co-ed secondary school for years 7-13.

He said the outbreak represented just 3 per cent of the school roll and while it was serious for affected pupils the school was operating normally.