Watermelon lovers are being warned to brace for the worst, with a possible shortage predicted over the coming weeks.
That comes after the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) imposed an immediate suspension of imported watermelons after live fruit fly larvae were found during a routine inspection of watermelons from Tonga last week.
"The detection involved three live larvae and some eggs of the Pacific fruit fly (Bactrocera xanthodes)," an MPI spokesperson told Newshub.
The length of the suspension will depend on how quickly Tongan authorities can investigate the situation and put measures in place to assure New Zealand, MPI said.
It will remain in place until Biosecurity New Zealand has undertaken an audit and is "satisfied that any findings from the audit have been actioned".
"It is possible that imported watermelons will be in short supply for the next few weeks," the spokesperson said.
The flies were found on Tuesday in a consignment that had three containers of watermelon, totalling 59 tonne. Another separate consignment from Tonga containing 29 tonne of watermelon is currently on hold, and given the suspension "will not be inspected or cleared".
"The exporters will have the choice to reship the consignment or have it destroyed."
A further export of another five containers of watermelons from Tonga was planned for Saturday October 17, but this has now been cancelled.
The suspension comes after watermelon imports from Queensland were halted when a cucumber green mottle virus (CGMMV) was detected in December. Those imports have yet to resume, with MPI saying "there is now no current pathway available for imported watermelons".
Domestic supply of watermelon will begin in January.