A strange-looking fish washed up on a Te Atatu beach has stumped the local who found it, who says it looks like nothing he's ever seen before.

Philip Duncan, head of WeatherWatch New Zealand, was going for a lunchtime jog with his golden retriever Harry when he noticed the unusual-looking fish lying at the high tide mark at the north end of the beach.

He said the "flattish tube" caught his eye as it was uncommon to see anything washed up on the beach, especially of this shape and size.

"I couldn't quite work out what it was. It didn't look like a fish I'd ever seen before.

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"It was long and skinny and sort of looked like an eel but it seemed to be the wrong colour and have the wrong mouth and jaw."

Mr Duncan said the fish was a bit decayed which didn't help with identifying it.

"It looked foreign, it didn't look like something which was either out of New Zealand or from the very deep sea."

Maybe someone caught it and threw it out of the boat - I can't imagine that but you never know," he added.

After tweeting about his find, Mr Duncan had received a few suggestions, with one person saying it could be a barracuda and another suggesting it could be an oarfish.

Japanese legend has it that oarfish wash up on beaches before or after earthquakes.

Mr Duncan said it was possible the fish was an oarfish based on pictures he'd seen, but if it was it was a very small one.