Covert investigation targeting meth dealers in Bay of Plenty discover one of the biggest clandestine labs to cook the drug ever found in New Zealand.

Tauranga's drug squad have raided a clandestine meth lab on the outskirts of Tauranga which is believed to be one of the biggest ever discovered in New Zealand.

Search warrants were executed on an address up McLaren Falls Rd, on the Kaimai Ranges, yesterday where the lab was found in the bush on a rural property.

Police described the "significant clandestine laboratory" as capable of producing several kilograms of methamphetamine each week.

This find will significantly disrupt the supply chain of methamphetamine in the area, said Detective Inspector Paul Newman.

Advertisement

"The impact this drug has on the community cannot be understated.

"It destroys families and lives, and the desire to obtain the drug is a driver of a lot of crime and harm in our communities – the people of Tauranga and the wider Bay of Plenty will be better off for the dismantling of this lab."

Newman said the Asset Recovery Unit will look to seize property accumulated through the proceeds of these criminal activities.

"It is vital that we tackle this type of offending on two fronts – first, we hold those responsible for the harm they are causing to our communities, and second, their criminal gains are taken from them," said Newman.

A man and woman have been charged and appeared in Tauranga District Court, although their identities and other details were suppressed.

A firearm and ammunition were also seized, along with a large amount of cash buried near a dwelling on the property.

The warrants were targeting the sale and distribution of methamphetamine in the area.

On Tuesday, police raided a Parkvale home in Tauranga and found methamphetamine and cannabis.

Advertisement

A 40-year-old Tauranga man faces drug charges in relation to the items seized.

Police also found 1kg of MDMA, commonly known as Ecstasy, at another address.

Anyone affected by methamphetamine addiction is urged to seek help through the Alcohol and Drug Helpline on 0800 787 797, or free text 1737 to speak with a trained

The raids were the culmination of a covert investigation by the Tauranga-based squad of the National Organised Crime Group, which was established in March last year.

The discovery of a methamphetamine "super lab" comes shortly after the New Zealand Herald published a documentary, Fighting the Demon, which examines the devastation caused by the drug over the past 20 years.

The documentary project found a country gripped by the second wave of addiction where users are punished but not helped, creating one of the most lucrative methamphetamine markets in the world.

"If you were to ask any significant trafficker what is the best market for meth ... they would say Australia and New Zealand," said Drug Enforcement Agency Canberra attache Kevin Merkel.

A kilogram of meth worth US$1000 in Mexico would fetch up to $200,000 in New Zealand, agencies told the Herald.

The massive mark-ups mean New Zealand is now a target of the world's most dangerous drug cartels - the South American gangs - as well as the Asian syndicates who've had a presence here for longer.

In many places meth is easier to buy than marijuana. Most users can score within an hour.

Deals are brazen. The most recent Illicit Drug Monitoring System report, from 2016, reported addicts more frequently buying on street corners, in parks, even at work.

The price of a point - about $100 for 0.1g - is unchanged from a decade ago.

New Zealanders spend nearly $1.4 million cash on methamphetamine every single day, according to police analysis of three months of drug testing of wastewater.

Described by scientists as "one large urine test", the wastewater testing started with three sites in 2016 - Whangarei, Auckland's North Shore and Christchurch - but was rolled out nationwide last November.

The ESR testing at 38 sites now captures 80 per cent of the population and officials hope it will paint a clearer picture of New Zealand's drug habits.

An average of 16kg of methamphetamine has been consumed each week in November, December and January, according to the preliminary results released in April.