A worker had a butcher's knife held to his neck in a terrifying early morning armed robbery in Tauranga today.

Tauranga Police said the worker had been opening The Aussie Butcher, in the Gate Pa Shopping Centre, at 6.47am when he was confronted by an intruder who had entered the store through an insecure back door and armed himself with a butcher's knife.

The intruder then held the knife, which had a 20cm blade, to the employee's neck, demanding money from the till and access to the safe.

"The male was making stabbing motions with the knife the employees neck, who gave the male the till and opened the safe for the offender," Tauranga Police said in a statement.


"The male then ran from the scene out the back door and into the service lane running along the back of a series of shops in the centre."

While the employee suffered no physical injuries, he was "justifiably shaken" by the events.

The offender was described as Maori, 5'8 tall, aged in his late 20s and of "skinny build".

The man was wearing a black beanie with a red scarf pulled across his lower face, along with a dark coloured jacket and or hoodie.

Police said he fled with money from the till and safe as well as the butcher's knife, which had a black handle.

People with any information on the robbery was asked to phone Tauranga Police on (07) 577 4300 or provide an anonymous tip on Crime Stoppers, at 0800 555 111.