On the Clive coast, among a jungle of old giant concrete barriers, washed-up driftwood and a disused outflow pipe, a seal colony has found a new home. So why is DoC worried? Blair Voorend reports.
The photos first started popping up in early winter.
The seals were at Clive's old outflow pipe at the end of Richmond Rd. And they were loving it.
The spot is rustic, fascinating, the sort of thing that is instantly Instagrammable for young tourists.
It's also easily accessible for much of the Hawke's Bay's tens of thousands of families.
Department of Conservation biodiversity ranger Rod Hansen said the growing population of fur seals at Clive, and in Hawke's Bay in general, was promising to see.
But it could also turn the Clive outflow pipe into an unwanted tourist attraction, Hansen said.
"This is the first time we have seen numbers of this size in Clive and that's mainly due to the seals' general migration north.
"But with more seals around it seems to attract more people to go and see them and that does affect the seals and also puts those seeing them in danger if they get too close."
Margaret Thompson went to visit the seals for the first time over the weekend.
Leopard seal checks in for 'winter holiday break' at Napier Sailing Club
She said everyone there seemed to be respectful and keeping their distance.
"We spent about an hour there watching the seals, taking photos, and during that time quite a few groups of people were coming and going to see the seals, all well behaved and respectful, keeping their distance and no one harassing the seals," she said.
"The people we chatted to whilst we were there were all very excited to see seals so close and all seemed genuinely interested in their wellbeing."
Hansen said that this colony is caused by the continuing migration of seals from the south over the years as they slowly make their way north.
"Over the years we have seen a number of seals around our coast and they have seemed to have found a new home in that area," Hansen said.
"It is the first group to be colonising there and from now until November they will be having pups and are essentially parking up."
But he does warn people to be careful.
"The ones there now are fur seals which are still dangerous but we are also seeing the odd leopard seal around which are much worse."
For Christina Hansen the arrival of the seals is quite the difference from when her husband was a boy spending most of the time fishing off the outflow pipe.
"My hubby remembers as a boy fishing off those pipes for herrings to use for bait, they were filled with peas from gorging on the overflow from Wattie's that ended in the sewage outlet."
Rod Hansen said DoC wanted people to always give wildlife space.
People should keep 20m away from seals and especially keep dogs well under control and clear of wildlife in all coastal areas.
Fur seals are normally just resting and need no special care.
Unless they are injured or causing safety concerns, DoC generally takes a "hands off and leave well alone" approach to seals on our coasts.
NZ fur seals are fully protected under the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978.