Seven sheep have been found shot dead near the summit of a rural road in Marlborough.
Police say the sheep were found on Taylor Pass Road, south of Blenheim, on Sunday.
The sheep had earlier been removed from a paddock, driven up the road and shot in the head.
One of the carcases was removed, but the offender left the head behind, police say.
Constable Andrew Holdaway told NZ Newswire police assume the sheep were killed for their meat.
The offender may have been spooked and could only take one of the sheep carcases, Const Holdaway said.
There haven't been any reports of stock thefts in the area for a long time.
"Until we get a bit more information, we're a bit hamstrung really," Const Holdaway said.
The road where the sheep were found is quite a way out of Blenheim and it's not a normal route taken by people, he said.
The farmer has said it's unlikely seven sheep would have been able to escape from a paddock, so it's believed they were taken.
Police are appealing for anyone who saw anything suspicious in the area, or heard gunshots, to come forward.