A safe containing almost $11,000 in cash has been found in bush in the Catlins.

A hole had been cut into the safe and cash, passports, birth certificates and jewellery taken. But it appears burglars missed a second compartment with $10,850, all in $50 and $20 notes.

Sergeant Craig Dinnissen of Balclutha police said the safe was found in bush near Nugget Point late on Friday afternoon.

A Department of Conservation ranger contacted the police about the safe but Mr Dinnissen was unsure if the ranger had found the safe or had been alerted by someone else.


Senior Constable Murray Hewitson of Owaka said the safe was believed to have been stolen in the burglary of a South Otago home in November, 2010.

An unknown amount of cash was in the safe, along with passports, birth certificates, and jewellery. Only the $10,850 has been recovered.

Mr Hewitson said the safe's owner gave a good description of the safe and its contents, and his safe keys opened the lock.

"The safe was thrown off the side of the road into the bush. Whoever broke in to the safe, spent a lot of time cutting their way in."

Police were waiting for the results of forensic examination on the safe.