Twenty-six live brown marmorated stink bugs (BMSB) have been discovered in a box of imported shoes.
The bugs were found by an Oamaru resident who reported the find to the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).
- Cargo ship ordered to leave New Zealand after stink bugs discovered
- Clampdown on pest which could devastate horticulture industry
They have the potential to devastate the fruit, vegetable and wine industries, and could put a multibillion-dollar hole in the economy should they get established here.
National biosecurity spokesperson Nathan Guy said it's concerning.
"MPI only have two sniffer dogs trained for stink bugs and this mail pathway is now creaking with Christmas shopping," he said.
"The risk of a significant BMSB incursion is now an everyday risk."
He claimed MPI hasn't got enough personnel to get all of the dogs out of their kennels because of a "toxic culture" within the detector dog management team in Auckland.
"The cost of a stink bug outbreak could reach $4 billion and would be catastrophic for our horticulture industry."
In November a cargo ship was ordered to leave New Zealand waters after the discovery of stink bugs and other unwanted pests on board.