A man has been caught allegedly trying to smuggle up to $1.3 million of cocaine into the country.

Customs officers caught a 46-year-old American man allegedly trying to hide 3kg of cocaine in a false-bottom suitcase when he arrived at Auckland Airport.

The cocaine has an estimated street value of between $874,000 and $1.3m.

The man arrived on a flight from Thailand last night and was arrested after a detailed examination of his baggage led to the discovery of the cocaine.

Customs Acting Manager Investigations Michael Blades said the arrest was a testament to the work of Customs officers and pre-screening that included the use of technology and passenger information to identify high-risk passengers.

"In this instance, we received good intelligence that assisted our frontline customs officers to successfully identify the passenger as a drug courier," he said.

"Cocaine causes serious effects including anxiety, paranoia and depression and while this seizure suggests there is a market for cocaine, Customs is committed to preventing it and any other drugs from getting past our border and onto our streets."

The man appeared in Manakau District Court today charged with importing and possession for supply of a class-A drug. He faces a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.