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A 23-year-old former Dunedin man, who works overseas, was later charged with driving with excess breath-alcohol, Dunedin police said.
Sergeant Damion Rangitutia said a member of the public rang police at 9am after seeing the ute being driven round the park.
Police were given the vehicle's registration number and immediately went to the area, but the man had driven off.
The vehicle was later driven past while police were still at the park, investigating the matter.
Police followed the vehicle, which was stopped shortly afterwards, also in the Dunedin North area, about 10am. The driver was later charged with driving with excess breath-alcohol.
Police were continuing inquiries, including with passengers in the vehicle, to confirm who had been driving earlier when the grass had been damaged.
Sgt Rangitutia said police ''frowned on'' such offending, and were concerned about the damage to a community recreational facility.
The vehicle had been impounded because of its involvement in the damage, he said.