A young Hong Kong man who arrived in the country with a list of tourist activities to fulfil, including a visit to Hobbiton and bungy jumping, was later arrested for allegedly importing nearly 20kg of meth disguised beneath boxes of hot pink spatulas.
Ho Hin Wan, 24, also known by his English name Gabriel, faces one charge of importing a class A drug. He is standing trial in the High Court at Auckland before a jury and Justice Sally Fitzgerald.
Wan entered a not guilty plea this morning via his Cantonese translator, who will be required to translate all the submissions and evidence as Wan sits in the dock.
It is alleged that Wan imported the drugs between July 9 and July 27 last year.
In her opening address, Crown prosecutor Jessica Blythe said Wan arrived at Auckland Airport last May and told immigration officials he was a tourist.
"He told them his plans," she said.
"He wanted to visit Hobbiton and go bungy jumping ... He had a printout of things he wanted to do.
"Listening to that, you might think that's the type of person you might want to come to New Zealand and spend their money."
However, instead of visiting the Lord of the Rings attraction Wan started "hunting for an office", Blythe said.
He quickly found one on Kitchener St in Auckland's CBD, she said, then Wan waited for instructions.
"He didn't go to Hobbiton, he didn't got bungy jumping ... so what did he do? He messaged four people."
Four men in Hong Kong were chatting over various social media apps about a "mysterious package" which was to be delivered to Wan, Blythe said.
"All five of them were very concerned about this very important package ... Strange behaviour for a tourist you might think?"
When the package arrived towards the end of the month it was addressed to a New Zealand kitchen supplies company and contained boxes of pink spatulas.
However, Blythe said Customs officers were suspicious and when they opened the boxes found 19.1kg of methamphetamine hidden inside.
"It's worth a lot of money," she said, adding that when sold by the gram, to procure the highest price, the drugs would have been worth more than $12m.
The Crown alleges Wan knew what was in the boxes and was tasked with collecting the drugs and distributing it.
"If you had a package worth [at least] $4m you wouldn't just leave it with anybody would you?
"It's not as if you can go to the police and say, 'sorry I've lost my methamphetamine can you help me find it?'"
She said an unnamed company in Hong Kong, which had sent the drugs, had paid for Wan's flights and his living expenses while he was to be in New Zealand.
Blythe also said the men in Hong Kong told Wan not to use his real name when renting the office space and to use rubber gloves when opening the package.
Wan also set up a fake Facebook profile and an email address under an alias when he arrived in New Zealand, she said.
He also had two phones, one used exclusively to communicate with his Hong Kong contacts, she added.
"Either he knew there were controlled drugs in the package or he knew there was a real possibility there were controlled drugs in the package," Blythe said.
She said in the more than 300 pages of messages between the Hong Kong men over a period of two months, not a single mention was made of what was inside the package.
"Sometimes what is not said is more important than what is said," she said.
When Customs raided the rented office they found it nearly empty, except for some pink rubber gloves, Sellotape and a bag.
"The defendant's handlers in Hong Kong are not stupid and the Crown says they would not send someone to unpack and distribute it if they didn't know what they were doing," Blythe said.
When Wan was arrested he said he was told the package contained sports shoes.
Wan's lawyer, Jonathan Krebs, who is assisted by Wan's Hong Kong counsel Kim McCoy, gave a brief opening statement.
He borrowed an earlier analogy from Justice Fitzgerald - that evidence in a trial was like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle.
"What you've just heard from Ms Blythe is a beautiful painting, like the picture on the front of a jigsaw box," he told the jury.
"What she said to you is what she hopes the evidence to be ... She's painted the picture on the front of the jigsaw box.
"It's accepted that someone caused methamphetamine to be imported into New Zealand from Hong Kong," he said, but added the issue was to decide how much his client knew of the package's contents.
"The evidence may be in two halves, to use Sean Fitzpatrick's analogy," Krebs said, asking the jury to assemble the jigsaw but not to rush to conclusions where the pieces didn't fit.