‘Possum’ involves drinking a pack of 24 beers, preferably speights, while sitting in a tree, until the teeangers fall out from drunkeness.

But media organisations from across the world are reporting on the game, after a story broke in New Zealand that students playing the game are leaving behind a mess of glass, cans, food and vomit in Dunedin’s Botanic Gardens.

Staff at the attraction said the drinking game had grown in popularity since it first made an appearance in the city four years ago.

Alan Matchett, gardens and cemeteries team leader at Dunedin City Council, said the mess left behind was blighting the gardens.

And he claimed the game also risked damaging the trees, some of which are heritage listed.

The game was picked up by newsoutlets around the world this week, with a reader South Africa, writing on The Guardian website: “This is the most fantastic game I have ever heard of! I am going to try it in Johannesburg soon!”

A spokesman for the University of Otago said that any students caught playing the game would be disciplined.

“There have been two occasions earlier this year where students have been located by Campus Watch in trees, drinking and causing a public nuisance in the Botanic Garden,” he said.

“Because Campus Watch was involved in both cases, the students were required to clean up their litter and to meet with the proctor for disciplinary action.”

Joe Stockman, editor of student paper the Critic, told guardian.co.uk: “It is the same thing every year down here – new students, think it’s original, all been done before.”

While Dunedin has been the focus, it appears the game has been played in trees in Auckland, Hamilton and Christchurch.