Geographic isolation helped shield New Zealand from hard drug trafficking for years but a strong DIY culture and the advent of easily hidden, highly mobile methamphetamine labs are having serious consequences
The five men were always going to stand out in the isolated New Zealand surfing village of Ahipara.
Their inept attempts to launch a nine-metre boat with multiple mechanical problems provided one clue.
The fact they were also offering locals large amounts of cash for help was another.
I knew something dodgy was up, says Peter Furze, a surfer who watched the men try and fail to get their boat into the rough seas off Ninety Mile Beach.
When a new boat was purchased for NZ$98,000 (55,000) in cash and then abandoned on the shore, locals demanded police investigate. Their instincts were right.
Inside the boat, buried in the sand dunes nearby, and in a campervan also belonging to the group, officers discovered nearly 500kg of methamphetamine or P as it is known in New Zealand.
The record haul worth half a billion dollars on the street seized last month has made headlines and focused the countrys attention on its insidious problem with a drug that is easy to make at home and cheaper than marijuana to buy.
Methamphetamine often referred to as the poor mans cocaine has become the class A drug of choice for Kiwis.