Police check garden beds in Christchurch, New Zealand. File picture: Tracey Nearmy/Reuters

Wellington - New Zealand police arrested a 33-year-old man on Tuesday after reports of suspicious items at a property in Christchurch.

Cordons had been put in place in a residential area in the afternoon and the bomb disposal unit was in attendance, a police spokesperson said in a statement. Houses in the neighbouring streets were evacuated as a precaution.

A man had been arrested and was speaking with police about the incident, the statement said.

One resident told the New Zealand Herald there was a "big" police presence.

"There's an empty section which is full of police cars and police, lots of them," she said.

"A fire engine was parked opposite but that's all I know - there's something going on."