A seal was found paddling about in Karamu Stream in Havelock North, much to the delight of onlookers.
"Although seals are marine mammals, they spend a lot of time on land and can sometimes show up in places you might not expect, occasionally following rivers upstream," a Department of Conservation spokesperson said.
It's far from unheard of, with adolescent seals often popping up inland between about July and September.
They can appear up to 15km inland in unusual places, such as a paddock, as with one seal found at a rural property in Twyford, Hastings in February this year.
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People are advised to stay at least 20m away from seals, as they will defend themselves if threatened and can move surprisingly quickly on land.
Seals can inflict serious injuries on dogs, and a dog owner whose dog attacks a seal could face prosecution because seals are protected under the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978.
People are also strongly advised not to feed or try to touch the seal.
If anyone is concerned about a seal's welfare or see it being harmed by someone, they can report the incident by calling 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468).