5.00pm UPDATE

A seizure of $9 million worth of illegal drugs imported from China is one of the biggest ever involving methamphetamine in New Zealand, say police.

Nine kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, known as 'Ice' was found in lava lamps when they arrived in Auckland from China.

The lamps in four cartons were inspected and the drug was found in the liquid in the lamps.


A joint police and customs operation, called Operation Lava, began and the packages were delivered to the Auckland address.

During the operation a fifth identical carton was found and the lamps it contained also had drugs inside.

The drugs had a street value of $9 million, customs officers said in a statement.

A Chinese student, 23, was charged with importing a Class A controlled drug into New Zealand, and possession for supply of a Class A controlled drug.

He is being held in custody until his next court appearance.

Detective Sergeant John Sowter from the Auckland drug squad said he believed the individual haul was the largest in New Zealand and inquiries were continuing both in New Zealand and overseas.

It appeared that those involved in the operation were all Asian and probably illegally in the country.

The person arrested was not working alone and they expected another two or three arrests.

Customs Minister Rick Barker praised the "awesome work" of officers who seized the drugs.

Mr Barker said he was impressed with the skill of the customs officers who found the drug, known as 'Ice P'.

"This is awesome work and should reconfirm for the public that this Government is tough on crime and is determined to stamp out P dealers," he said.

"The fact is that New Zealanders are being targeted by foreign drug syndicates.

"This is the largest amount of crystal methamphetamine we've stopped and the amount of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine tablets seized, in over 455 interceptions, is double that of the previous reporting year."

Mr Barker said customs had seized a "staggering" 1.2 million tablets of precursors, believed destined for methamphetamine production.