Motorists travelling on the highway to Motueka were surprised to see a healthy seal lying on the road last night.
Haig Tapper said he and his girlfriend saw the seal on the road and initially thought it was a dog or a big plastic bag near the turnoff to Mapua.
Mr Tapper said he was travelling towards Motueka and the seal was on one of the double passing lanes on the right-hand side.
He did a U-turn at a safe place further up the hill and when he came back a taxi driver had also stopped.
He said the seal seemed happy and flopped across the road.
They called the Department of Conservation. The seal followed the hill down towards a creek.
Mr Tapper said the seal was 50m from the creek, but still had a "decent hill" to climb to get back up to the road and to the sea.
Rudy Tetteroo, of DOC, said he would check the area today.
He said it was not uncommon for seals to wander inland some distance. The region had been experiencing some very high tides over the past couple of days, which could have aided the seal's exploring.
DOC was also called to a young seal sheltering on the rocks at Monaco yesterday.
Monaco resident Rosie Ross took some photos of the seal. "It had been pretty wild and windy in the night so he might have been washed up," she said.
A small crowd gathered to check on the seal, with one boy bringing it a tin of sardines.
- © Fairfax NZ News