A Bay View family shared their surprise when a little penguin/kororā was found swimming in their paddling pool.
According to DoC, between November and March during their moulting period, the penguins come ashore to shed feathers and grow a new coat. During this time, they are vulnerable because they can't swim.
Little penguins can walk up to 1km inland and travel 100m upwards, Rachel Haydon, general manager of the National Aquarium, said.
"It's a bit of a mystery as to why it went into the pool. We think it may have come in to moult, saw the pool and took advantage," she said.
It is thought the penguin may have come inland looking for a place to nest, to moult or could have been fleeing from the orca currently swimming along Hawke's Bay shores.
"Penguins are nesting at this time of year and are known to travel quite far inland at times. They are a lot more athletic than they look," Denise Fastier, DoC senior ranger of biodiversity, said.
Little penguins nest in rocky areas and usually roam further in alone.
"They are a marine animal not freshwater, so it is best not to encourage them to spend time in pools," Haydon said.
DoC recommends leaving penguins alone and keeping dogs away from their nesting areas.
The little penguin is an at-risk declining species due to habitat loss, human intervention and predators such as cats, dogs and ferrets.
According to IUCN, there are 470,000 little penguins in Southern Australia and New Zealand.
Haydon recommends leaving any little penguin found inland alone and calling 0800 DOC HOT so a biodiversity ranger can assess the situation.
"If someone finds a kororā in an unusual location, it's best to leave them be and give them space unless there's a reason for concern such as an injury or risk to the bird's wellbeing," Fastier said.
"Only DoC staff and those holding a relevant Wildlife Act authority are permitted to interact with native wildlife."
The woman who spotted the penguin could not be contacted for comment.