When Iain and Stacey Trotter think "new seal" they think new road — not the marine variety in the back yard of a rural property 28km from the nearest ocean.
But there was just the oddest twist in the inventory on their horticultural property at Twyford near Hastings with the sudden appearance of a seal, first noticed mid-morning on Monday as temperatures in Hawke's Bay again headed above 30 degrees Celsius.
The Trotter family, on the property for 60 years, grow asparagus, sweetcorn and grapes, with with a constant queue of animal and marine wildlife, including the occasional grazing sheep, rabbits, possum, and chickens and the koura, whitebait, eels and even the occasional shrimp from the stream.
"But," said Stacey Trotter, "never have we had a seal amongst the menagerie".
With the furry marine mammal well-ensconced by early-evening at least eight hours later, she said it seemed happy and settling in, able to dip in and out of the cool spring-fed water with an abundance of food.
Early images from son and budding photographer Quinn Trotter showed it little the worse for wear, lolling on the lawn, on its back and tipping a flipper obligingly for the camera.
It's calculated the seal has made its way about 28km upstream from the mouth of the Clive River on the coast between Napier and Hastings, via the Karamu and Raupare streams.
By early-afternoon Tuesday the seal was "on the move", said Napier-based Department of Conservation biodiversity supervisor Kellie Mayo, who raised no concerns other than that people and dogs should keep at safe distance.
DoC had already seen photos of the seal's ventures into other parts of the neighbourhood, but staff had not seen the mammal.
"It seems to be moving quite quickly," she said on Tuesday. "We have had a few reports.
"Each time we catch-up with whoever's taken the photos it seems to have already moved on."
"It is normal," she said. "We often get reports of seals 15km or so inland."
It was hoped that the seal would eventually make its own way back to the coast, without help.
"First of all it's is dangerous for our staff to shift it as well," Mayo said.
"Shifting it from so far inland would be quite an undertaking, and we don't know it's not going to just turn around and go back again."