Dunedin residents get surprise visit from sea lion in their backyard

It’s not every day you look at your backyard and spot a huge sea lion just hanging around — but that is exactly what happened to Mandy Wennekes and her family yesterday afternoon.

The Dunedin resident says she couldn’t believe her eyes when she spotted the sea lion sitting on her lawn.

“We were just a bit bewildered,” she said. “It’s not something we ever thought we’d see.”

The family live on Ocean Drive, a stone’s throw from the beach, but it is the first time they’ve received a visit from a sea creature before.

“We’ve had horses come up the track from the beach before, by accident, as one wrong turn leads them into the property,” she explained, “but never a sea lion”.

To get to their lawn, the sea lion had to go up three paths, including one up a steep hill.

The animal hung around for a good half hour and did not seem bothered by the dogs barking at him.

Hearing the commotion from the dogs, her husband tried to see what all the fuss was about. That’s when he spotted the huge creature hanging about in their property.

“My husband tried to get a wee bit closer to him and he started making noises so we stayed clear of him.”

“I think they are looking for mates at the moment,” Wennekes said.

“All females are hiding in the bush with their pups.”

After 30 or so minutes, the animal continued on his merry way, and was reportedly later spotted back on the beach.

After posting a photo of her visitor to the local Facebook group, the Dunedin resident was contacted by a member of the New Zealand Sea Lion Trust who clarified the sea lion is over 10 years old and a male.

“What a gorgeous beast of a visitor! I love how politely he’s sitting at the wee fence. This big fella is definitely 10+ years old – that mane, wow – and is what we refer to as a beachmaster,” Jordana, from the Sea Lion Trust, told the resident.

“I’m a bit surprised this guy is in Otago and not down in the Subantarctic Islands mastering a beach full of ladies! But also…. he really still just looks like a big puppy to me! A very very very big puppy. So glad you enjoyed this special encounter that would not happen anywhere else in the world,” she added.

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