Key Points:

Queenstown police are hunting a man who was frightened off after accosting a woman in Queenstown yesterday.

Detective Sergeant Graham Bartlett of Queenstown CIB said the 20-year-old woman was walking on a path through the Queenstown Gardens about 4.45pm when she heard footsteps behind her.

She was grabbed by both arms from behind from behind, pushed to the ground, and told to "shut up".

But before the man could do anything else he was startled by a couple walked down the same pathway and ran off, Mr Bartlett said.

The woman was not injured but extremely frightened, he said.

Police were treating the incident as serious due to the nature and time of the assault.

The man was described as Caucasian, aged about 30, 180cm tall, with tanned skin.

He had a strong athletic build, dark wavy short hair, a scruffy beard of maybe a week's growth, a big nose and an angular jaw.

He was wearing faded blue jeans, and a dark brown hoody sweatshirt with white small writing on the front.

Mr Bartlett said police would like to hear from anyone who may have seen the man in or around the Queenstown Gardens and from any women who may have had a similar incident but had not reported it.

Police would also like to identify and speak to the couple who were walking through the Queenstown Gardens middle pathway about 4.45pm.

The woman was wearing a grey denim skirt, black camisole top, and a green hooded sweatshirt/cardigan, Mr Bartlett said.

- NZPA