An early-morning sighting of a suspected firearm at an Auckland beach has sparked concern for local residents.
A small group of people were seen at Stanmore Bay beach on the Hibiscus Coast this morning, one carrying a long-barrelled firearm that eyewitnesses say was fired at least twice.
An eyewitness told the Herald: "There are often people out in the early morning walking their dogs etc so I initially didn't think much of it, but then I noticed the gun and felt like something wasn't quite right.
"Because I have no knowledge of guns, let alone the different types and considering what's happened in Christchurch etc I thought I better just call the police.
"People loiter at that toilet block all the time but I've never seen anything like that before."
The photo was posted to a local Facebook group, where residents shared their thoughts on the sighting.
One woman wrote: "What's our community coming to? Would prefer to be able to walk my dog without this sort of thing going on."
Another said: "I would be walking in the other direction real quick."
Police confirmed that they were called and investigated the incident.
Inspector Mark Fergus, Area Commander for the Waitemata North Area, told the Herald that a concerned resident had reported the group on Langton Rd at 7am today.
"The group appeared to be firing out to sea and along the beach, there were no reports of people being fired at. Police swiftly responded but upon arrival the group had left in the direction of Kauri Rd. From the description provided by the witness, the rifle was likely an air-rifle, but police cannot discount that a small-calibre firearm was used."
Police are making a number of inquiries and want to speak to anyone who was in the area at the time or has any information about those involved.
Inspector Fergus said: "A white van with roof racks was parked in the car park at the time, and left before police arrival. The driver may be able to provide another witness account, and police are asking the driver to contact us.
"Police want to reassure the community and to ensure people feel safe, patrols will continue through the location as inquiries are made."
In June of this year, golfers at the nearby Whangaparaoa Golf Course reported being shot at in what one described as "a pretty traumatic event".
Golfers were forced to take cover as shots were fired at them over a sustained period.
Police later charged a 41-year-old man with careless use of a firearm in connection with the incident.
Two firearms, an air pistol and an air rifle with telescope sights, were also seized.