People stuck in traffic heading south on State Highway 1 were left bemused after a cow was fatally shot due to it being a danger to motorists.
The incident occurred just south of Silverdale.
A father who was driving his family home from their Queen's Birthday holiday told NZME he noticed the cow scuffing its hooves on the side of the road and thought it was going to charge the cars.
"All of a sudden a cop comes out from between the cars with a rifle and shot it in the head. He then walked up closer to it and shot it in the head again - in front of everyone.
"I'd literally just said to my girls, 'Hey, look there's a cow,' and then, bang, that happened. It was surreal."
He said the incident left his three-year-old sad and confused.
A police spokeswoman told NZME police tried to remove the cow but the situation required them to make quick, dynamic decisions.