The words "water spout" were on the lips of all who caught a glimpse of the weird weather phenomenon off the coast of Mount Maunganui yesterday.
The Bay of Plenty Times was inundated with calls and emails from people who saw the sea spout when it formed near Rabbit Island about 4pm.
Bureta resident Dave Henstock was looking out his window when he saw it.
"It looked like a tornado, like you would see in America," he said.
"It's just a solid cylinder going from the sky into the sea. It's pretty cool, so long as it stays out there."
Mount Maunganui woman Sammy Rogers was waiting at the i-Site office on Salisbury Ave when she heard about it
"This American tourist was like 'look over there everyone'," Ms Rogers said.
"You could see the wind inside the tornado spinning around at the top of the funnel.
"It went right past Burger King and then I couldn't see much more,"
Metservice forecaster Gerard Barrow said water spouts were basically tornadoes but at sea.
"Instead of dust and debris being sucked into the vortex, you get water."
Yesterday's water spout was considered to be a weak one as it was skinny, Mr Barrow said.
Water spouts usually form when warm air is forced upwards, through winds changing direction and heavy rain.
"It's like if you fill up a balloon with warm air, it ascends," Mr Barrow said.
While water spouts were mostly harmless on land because they dissipated quickly, Mr Barrow warned boaties to steer clear of them.
The Bay of Plenty Times thanks all of those who sent in their photos of the water spout.