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Mystery parcels containing upto $300 sent from Paris to the West Coast could have been part of a test run to launder money or traffic drugs, say police.

Senior sergeant Allyson Ealam told a press conference in Greymouth this afternoon that officers were working with New Zealand Customs and Interpol to try to identify who had sent the packages.

Police are aware of four similar packages received by residents in Hokitika and Greymouth over the past fortnight, as revealed by the Greymouth Star last week.

Three contained a new hairdryer and the other a pair of hairclippers. All were accompanied by an envelope containing cash in Euros and New Zealand Dollars.


"The envelopes with the money in them had handwritten notes on the front of them," Mrs Ealam said.

One of the notes said: "Thank you for being a true friend."

One woman received two parcels. None of the recipients knew the sender or why they had been targeted.

Mrs Ealam said police did not believe it was a marketing ploy and did not rule out the possibility criminals were trying to work out a way of sending money or drugs into the country.

"We have already been told that the return addresses on each of the parcels exist and we are now checking the names of the senders."

In each case the sender's name was different - and they were all English names, not French.

Forensic experts had taken a close look at each parcel and did not find any concealed drugs. Fingerprints had been taken from the boxes the gifts were mailed in.

She said the parcels had been packaged in the same way and did not appear to have been opened by Customs.


"There is usually a sticker on parcels saying it had been opened and checked, and none of the parcels sent to the West Coast had stickers on them."

Ms Ealam was not prepared to disclose the identities of the recipients or any details about them.

"They all did the right thing by contacting police about their surprise parcels. Maybe they have come from someone who won the lottery over there - or it could be that it's a nice prank."

Police are keen to hear from anyone else who has received a similar surprise from Paris.

Mrs Ealam said they were unaware of similar packages having been delivered anywhere else in New Zealand.