A turtle found "sunbathing" in the middle of Kahuranaki Rd as temperatures soared above 30 degrees Celsius on Sunday is recovering in a Havelock North bath tub.

Theo, as he has been nicknamed, is being fed apricots and silverbeet after his daring escape on to the rural Hawke's Bay road.

It's the second time the rogue turtle, whose owner is not known, has escaped on to the road in a month.

Olivia Nysse has taken over the job of looking after Theo from her male friend, who "thought it was a rock" when driving past in December, but decided to pull over for a look.


When its owner could not be found, the man put Theo in an outdoor enclosure, only for Theo to escape from it and be found 500 metres up the road from his new home on Sunday.

Nysse, whose taken charge of the turtle's care, believes it may have been released into the wild as people often purchase them as pets then release them when they get large.

A Facebook post to a lost pet's group on behalf of Theo asking for his owner has so far found no luck.

"I spent last night in a strange tub, I snacked on silver beet and apricots, but I would love to return back to my family as they know my favourite cuisines," the post read.

"If you're missing me, or know where my home is, please reach out to my human friends so they can take me home."

If the owner cannot be found Nysse is planning on creating a home for Theo in the small pond at her Havelock North home.

"If we can't find the owner he has a beautiful new home he can live in, I am planning on buying all the equipment he needs," she said.

Chris Wootton, senior ranger at DoC, said the turtle is a red-eared slider and was likely to be a pet.


He warned that they should not be released into the wild as Nysse expects it may have been.

"It is legal to own the turtle as a pet, but it is an offence to release these turtles into the wild as they can become pests," Wootton said.

The turtle is omnivorous and feeds on vegetation and small animals such as insects, molluscs, frogs, crustaceans, birds and small reptiles.

Red-eared sliders are a major potential pest in New Zealand and numbers may increase with climate change, Wootton said.

"This species is a 'ticking time bomb', much like several pest plants that are currently on the marginal edge of their climatic range in New Zealand," he said.