A tooth carried by an airline passenger landing in Queenstown has ended up costing her dearly.
The Ministry for Primary Industries said a biosecurity detector dog sniffed out the tooth last weekend in the handbag of a woman passenger who had arrived from China.
She told officials the tooth came from a dog and was bought in rural China, and her travelling companion said it was carried for luck when flying.
MPI's border clearance manager for the Central and South Region Andrew Spelman said staff recognised the tooth came from a cow, and could have been contaminated with foot-and-mouth or other diseases.
"It looked way too big to be from a dog.
"It could also have been carrying other diseases such as rabies, given its rural origin and the unknown circumstance of the cow's death," Mr Spelman said.
The passenger was fined $400 for failing to declare the item.