This year's weird and wonderful tales range from mystery pool poos to a Nelson couple's surprise baby.

From a mystery pool pooper to a new mum who gave birth only hours after discovering she was pregnant, this year's quirky headlines came thick and fast.

But nothing got the public's flippers in a twist quite like the seemingly endless stream of seals that turned up where they shouldn't be.

The first one came ashore in Papakura. That would have been exciting enough for the quiet, semi-rural South Auckland district. But then the seal made itself at home at a car wash. So the Fire Service, a videographer and DoC turned up.

Before long, the seal had its own Twitter account.


It should have ended when the seal was rounded up and taken to Waiuku. But then more seals showed up - one at Pak'n Save, one at a park.

Then one turned up in rural Helensville, sparking a police call-out. Another was found more than 1km from the sea in a Hobsonville paddock. There was even a leopard seal at Kohimarama Beach.

But none was more comfortable in the spotlight than the sea lion that showed up at the Dunedin public pools. The 1.5m animal basked in the sun and took a couple of dips before it was coaxed back to the ocean.

There was more drama at public pools further south, as a serial pooper struck in Invercargill every Friday for several weeks in a row. The mystery pooper remains at large, but other mysteries had happier endings.

Scottish backpacker Sarah Milne pinned a note to a tree in Picton on the off-chance the beachgoer she'd shared a fleeting smile with might fancy a date. The story made international headlines and the ensuing date with Picton barista William Scott Chalmers turned into a week-long romance.

A private sleuth helped to solve the disappearance of a crane truck called Buddy, which made a 2000km round trip to the Chatham Islands and back after it was taken from Martinborough in March.

A waste truck nicknamed Little Sucker also found its way back home after it was stolen from a Dunedin firm.

In Wairarapa, Paul John Lovett used an electric pump and five big plastic barrels in the back of his Toyota station wagon to siphon fuel directly from the underground tanks at three service stations, stealing more than 2000 litres in total. But he forgot a key ingredient of any successful heist - concealing one's identity - and his vehicle was identified on CCTV footage. He admitted three charges, while a co-accused is still before the courts.

Picton local William Chalmers responded to a poster left by a woman with whom he exchanged a smile 28 February 2015 on the beach at Picton. Photo / Supplied
Picton local William Chalmers responded to a poster left by a woman with whom he exchanged a smile 28 February 2015 on the beach at Picton. Photo / Supplied

Comically bad driving also made headlines. One motorist who got confused about how to enter an Auckland car park tried to drive down pedestrian stairs - but his hatchback got stuck half-way.

Later, a luxury Audi A7 got stuck on Kohimarama Beach.

In Hastings, police pulled over a pink golf cart because the unwarranted, unregistered vehicle was being driven on a public road. In Wairarapa, a driver was caught using a laptop at the wheel. In Auckland, a woman won a $50,000 BMW after an April Fool's Day joke turned out to be true. In Whanganui, a drunk man started smashing up cars because his mates had taken his car keys off him. And in the same city, the wall of a woman's property was destroyed for the fifth time in a dozen years after a car hit it. "Well," she said, "obviously something's not right."

There were dramatic rescues too. Firefighters had to abseil down a cliff to rescue a 2-year-old Jack Russell, Reap, who had been chasing a ball.

In Nelson, two teen girls sparked a full-scale rescue after getting into trouble in the water while skinny-dipping with a male companion.

And in Northland, Tippi the serial tree-climbing dog had to be rescued after becoming stuck 5m up.

The tables were turned on a police search dog who went missing in the Tararua Ranges during a training exercise in May. A frantic search was launched for Thames, a 4-year-old German shepherd, but after seven nights in the bush he was found, hungry but unharmed.

Wairarapa turtle Samantha was more extreme, with a five-week walkabout from her Greytown home.

But perhaps the strangest tale this year was the Nelson couple who unexpectedly had a baby last month just hours after finding out they would become parents.

Sous chef Charlene Wells, 28, had complained about back pains, but put it down to being "on her feet all day at work", her partner Eamon Parkes said. The next day, she took a pregnancy test, which came back positive. She was roughly 37 weeks pregnant and 12 hours later gave birth to a healthy baby boy, Carlo.

"It's the best early Christmas present," Parkes said.