Police are investigating after the discovery of a body in a rural area north of Dunedin, as detectives and forensic scientists examine what appears to be a blood-spattered crime scene at a house in the city.

In a statement today, police said the house in Lock St, St Clair, was being examined following a missing person case from February 5, but would not say whether the scene was linked to the discovery of the body.

The body was found at a rural property, north of Dunedin, about 8pm yesterday.

A scene examination was also under way there, as was a formal identification process for the dead person, police said.

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A spokesman could not confirm whether the body was that of a man or a woman, or elaborate on where it was found, other than rural and north of Dunedin.

When the Otago Daily Times visited Lock St earlier today, a Housing New Zealand home was cordoned off, as Environmental Science and Research (ESR) forensic scientists flown in from Christchurch and police examined what several neighbours understood was a bloody crime scene.

One neighbour said blood was pooled inside the home, spattered across the walls and drag marks were seen inside.

Other neighbours living nearby said police told them a man went missing from the house in suspicious circumstances.

Police told them there was blood inside, but would not confirm if they had found a body.

The man and woman who lived there kept to themselves, one neighbour said.

"They hadn't even been there that long - but so many people come and go from these houses, it's ridiculous.''

Drug users and mental health patients were increasingly moving into the east side of the street, largely owned by Housing New Zealand - a stark contrast to a few years ago, the neighbour said.

"The police are up there every two or three days.

"When we moved in here, these houses were all pensioner flats. There were lovely people in them, now the whole neighbourhood has gone to the pack.''

However, at least one pensioner remained on that side of the street.

Marie Dobier, 67, lived next door to the scene of the crime, in a flat she has spent decades in.

Dobier said she woke up in the early hours of Sunday. "...and next thing a policeman was there.''

In a statement, police today appealed to the public for any information.

"We urge anyone who may have seen anything suspicious in the Lock Street area between Monday February 4 and Tuesday February 5 to call police on 03 471 4800."

Alternatively, people could call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.