Possums, yes. Escaped livestock, definitely. But an elephant?
Of all the animals you might see by Northland roadsides, elephants are one of the least likely - unless you are in Waiotemarama, roughly midway between Opononi and Waipoua Forest.
There a lifesize model of a female Asian elephant named Sati has been an unusual tourist attraction since 2013, guarding a puzzle shop and raising money for conservation.
Sati was made for Auckland Zoo by Rawene artist Harmen Hielkema in 1992 when he was still a professional model-maker in Auckland.
Made from fibreglass and polyurethane on an aluminium frame, Sati was originally sliced in half so zoo-goers could see her muscles, bones and organs.
She was placed in the children's area then shifted to the entrance, where she fell prey to vandals and was eventually removed.
Years later, after Mr Hielkema traded Auckland for a less hectic life in the Hokianga, he managed to track Sati down in storage. He got her back, somewhat the worse for wear, after making a donation to the zoo, and spent the next three months restoring her.
He then faced the problem of what to do with a life-size elephant. An Asian restaurant near Kerikeri was interested but Louis "Puzzleman" Toorenburg, of Labyrinth Woodworks in South Hokianga, got in first.
The pair met at a get-together for Dutch folk living in the Hokianga. Mr Toorenburg told Mr Hielkema about his dream for creating an A-maze-in Garden behind his puzzle shop, complete with sculptures and giant outdoor puzzles.
Mr Toorenburg had soon bought a giant hand sculpted by Mr Hielkema; Sati followed, strapped to a light truck, in 2013.
About 60 locals turned out to welcome Sati to her new home. Some took the invitation to welcome an elephant literally and arrived with crates of cabbages and bread.
"Harmen knows I appreciate the weird, the wonderful and the wacky, and that Sati would fit in well with what I'm trying to do here," Mr Toorenburg said.
Sati is more than a mere roadside ornament. Via a donation tin chained to her trunk she is also raising money for the zoo's wildlife fund. The first $1000 was handed over to the elephant programme last month.
"I feel really sorry for the plight of these animals that are being wiped out for their tusks and horns," Mr Toorenburg said.
"We all live on this planet. If we get rid of all these species it won't be very long before it isn't a very nice place for us."
Mr Hielkema - whose other creations include an African elephant on Auckland's Khyber Pass Rd and a giant chainsaw he helped build at Maungaturoto - said making Sati was a gruelling experience due to the tight three-week deadline, the need to get her innards anatomically correct, and unrealistic expectations given the time and budget available for the project.
He also a spent a lot of time studying the behaviour of Auckland Zoo's elephants at that time, Burma and Kashin, to help him get the sculpture right.
Although seeing the real elephants wrap their trunks around Sati's was a beautiful moment, nothing about the original project was entirely satisfactory - hence her name, an ironic contraction of satisfaction.
However, he is pleased Sati has now found the perfect home.
"I'm glad she's gone to Louis. He really understands where I come from, in more ways than one."
Mr Hielkema is planning a ferro-cement baby for Sati, but says the gestation period of the artificial elephant is even longer than the real thing.
Mr Toorenburg wants to call the baby Faction, as in Sati's Faction.
Go to www.harmen.co.nz to read more about Sati and other projects by Mr Hielkema.