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Paula Ramage drove from Arrowtown to Dunedin yesterday to drop her son, Jack Ward (20), at his new student flat.
The trip had a small detour to pick up another flatmate at Dunedin Airport.
When driving down Centre Rd at the back of the airport, about 500m south of the petrol station, they passed a ‘‘hubcap’’ crawling along the centre of the road.
After reaching the station, they decided to turn back to inspect the unidentified fleeing object.
Both were surprised to find a mature red-eared slider turtle. The semiaquatic turtle had its "beautiful red neck" out and had "real personality", Ms Ramage said.
They took the turtle to the airport for the pick-up and asked the information desk staff if anyone had reported it missing.
As no-one had, Mrs Ramage drove the turtle and two students to the flat.
While they were at the flat, an airport staff member called with news Momona resident Brenda Hale had been missing her 10-year-old turtle Shelly since Waitangi Day.
Mrs Hale gave Ms Ramage a box of chocolates when she was reunited with Shelly yesterday.
Shelly had lived with Mrs Hale and her family in Trent St, Momona, about 1km from where she was found.
"They can move quite fast. Everyone has been giving me a hard time for losing a turtle."
Shelly had escaped from her fenced yard before but returned of her own accord so Mrs Hale never lost hope of seeing the turtle again.