The Department of Conservation is appealing for witnesses after two seals were found shot through the head at a popular seal colony near Kaikoura.
Area manager for South Marlborough Dave Hayes says staff were called to Ohau Point, half an hour north of Kaikoura, after members of the public found the seals just below a lookout platform.
The New Zealand Fur Seal colony is one of the few along the East Coast and is close to a popular viewing area, about a 10-minute walk from State Highway 1.
Mr Hayes says one of the dead animals was a pup and the other an adult female.
DoC wants to hear from anyone may have seen something between late Friday afternoon and midday on Saturday.
The colony is a popular attraction, with about 12,000 visitors a month between May and September hoping to see the seal pups gather at the Ohau Stream waterfall.
Two years ago, 23 seals at the same colony were found clubbed to death.