A crocodile in the Whangarei Harbour this week certainly turned heads.

But, fortunately, it wasn't the real deal, just a lifeless replica.

Northern Advocate reader Wendy Giffin worked that out soon after she saw the croc, but not before she jumped out of her car with a camera in hand on Monday afternoon.

"I thought with this crazy weather, anything was possible, but someone's put it in the water as a joke. But it certainly was an eye catcher," she said.

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Giffin was heading to Onerahi with her daughter and three grandchildren about 3.30pm on Monday when they spotted the fake croc close to the water's edge between the new roundabout on Riverside Dr and Kissing Pt.

"We both saw it together. The head was moving in the water so we turned around and pulled over near where we saw it.

"The grandkids got excited as well. It looked so realistic at first. I got out with my camera and walked along the side of the footpath and that's when I realised it was fake, but thought I'd get some photos anyway.

"The wind was making it turn around. It was made of either plastic or polystyrene and I think it was just a head. I've seen them before at a wildlife park in Australia where something's holding them but not letting them move away."

Giffin said the tide was fairly full and, strangely, a couple of cyclists rode past but didn't notice it. If it was a real croc, she said she would have called the Department of Conservation, which no doubt would have swung into action.