American spies are gathering in Queenstown for a clandestine meeting of the global Five Eyes intelligence network, the New Zealand Herald understands.
Representatives of Five Eyes - made up of intelligence agencies from New Zealand, Australia, the United States, Canada and Britain - have been quietly jetting into the alpine resort town over the last few days.
It's understood that Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) operatives have been on the ground for several days.
Plain-clothed Diplomatic Protection Service (DPS) officers and undercover armed police were seen in various unmarked vehicles at the luxurious five-star Millbrook Resort near Arrowtown, outside Queenstown, today.
After enquiries from the Herald today, Andrew Little, Minister Responsible for the NZSIS and GCSB, confirmed the gathering.
"As the public would expect, New Zealand's national security and intelligence officials meet with their Five Eyes counterparts as part of their regular engagement. There are some engagements happening at official level in New Zealand at the moment," Little said.
"It is not in New Zealand's national security interests, or the security interests of our partners, to provide any further details at the moment."
The popular resort was teeming with golfers today, mostly oblivious to the high-levels of security around them.
The Herald understands that police officers from various districts across the South Island are helping provide security for the duration of the conference.
In 2017, then FBI director James Comey was spotted emerging from a Gulfstream G550 jet, which had flown directly from Hawaii to Queenstown.
CIA director Mike Pompeo also arrived by a CIA-registered Gulfstream GIV, which had previously been spotted at Wellington Airport.
Amid heavy security, the Americans were taken via police escort to Millbrook where the meeting was believed to have taken place.
- This story was first published on the New Zealand Herald's website.