Criminal charges have been laid against an unemployed man who travelled the world for two years courtesy of the taxpayer.

Peter Freedom left for Australia in April 2009 but his benefit payments were not stopped until last January, allowing him to visit Europe, the Balkans, Britain, Africa and Asia.

The dole-funded global jaunt left Social Development Minister Paula Bennett fuming and this week investigators laid two charges at the Wellington District Court.

Freedom, also known Petrus van Druten, was charged with one count of using a forged document and one count of misleading a social welfare officer.

The 34-year-old failed to appear in court and a warrant for his arrest was issued. While it is unlikely Freedom could be extradited on those charges, the arrest warrant will trigger a border alert if he returns to New Zealand.

He received nearly $28,000 in benefit payments over the two years, paid out at about $290 a week, helping him visit tourist meccas such as the Pyramids of Giza, the Taj Mahal and the Eiffel Tower.

Freedom was living in Hawera, Taranaki, before leaving the country. He had a legal obligation to inform Work and Income before going overseas. But his payments were cut in January as part of the Government's Future Focus reforms, which require all who have been on the unemployment benefit for a year to reapply.

The two-year taxpayer-funded trip came to light only when Freedom contacted media in February to expose the Work and Income loophole he exploited. He said he "didn't feel good" about spending taxpayer money but "what started as an accident soon became an opportunity".

When the offending came to light in February, Work and Income head Mike Smith called Freedom a "liar and fraudster" but admitted staff should have worked with him more actively and said records showed it had "lost the opportunity to prevent this fraud".

Freedom had lied on his application about having another name. Although a case manager became aware of this, she did not record it on his file, which could have raised the flag when he left the country.