A Korean traveller has been refused entry to New Zealand after trying to hide tomato seeds from biosecurity officers.

The woman arrived at Auckland Airport yesterday with her husband.

The seeds were found in tissue paper hidden between the flaps of a box during a baggage search.

She has been forced to return to Korea on the next available flight after Ministry for Primary (MPI) Industries' staff referred the matter to Immigration New Zealand.

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MPI manager north passenger Craig Hughes said the woman admitted plans to plant the seeds in her daughter's garden in Auckland.

"The offence involved a deliberate attempt to smuggle goods that could have contained diseases or pests devastating to New Zealand tomato growers."