Northland Jewellery Recoveries
Two Rings Lost in Angry Surf – Night Search, Found!
Ann-Maree was holidaying at Tauranga Bay Camp near Whangaroa and decided to brave the dumping surf and go for a wade. She underestimated the power of the surges up the beach and was forced to put her hands down into the sand to maintain her balance as the water rushed past her.
She gave up the idea due to the ferocity of the water and returned to the dry sand, that’s when she noticed her two gold rings were missing, one a very sentimental engagement diamond ring from two generations ago.
She asked at the camp office if she could hire a metal detector, they didn’t have one and instead they gave her my contact details – along with a really positive summary of my previous success stories there.
Ann-Maree phoned me at work and explained the situation. Knowing this beach changes with each tide, it eats rings so I headed home to get my kit and was soon on site – Staring at a 2.5m dumping surf break on a very steep beach. Haven’t seen it like that for many years !
The sand was really deep and mobile, but there was no way I was going to risk going into the surf until the tide was further out and it had calmed down a little. I started by gridding the shallows, intending to follow the tide down. Within 10 minutes I had been caught by a sweep and my shorts were soaked…So gave up staying dry after that.
I ran two opposing grids on the 11″ coil, then switched to the 15″ and ran another two, real hard work with the surges grabbing the coil and only netted a token for the camp showers and a few odds and ends of scrap.
The 15″ was taking it’s toll, so with the tide further out, I reverted to the 11″ and wound the settings up so ‘hot’ it would probably pick up the earths core. And started a new set of grids.
After 4Hrs, it was now dark and I was right down on nearly low tide mark now. I got a deep, clean tone. Battling the water and the almost fluid shelly sand, I heaved scoopfuls out of the hole until I had it, pinpointed it with the coil in the diggings, and rapidly placed my foot on it as another surge came past. In with the pinpointer and my fingers found the shape of a ring in the dark.
I marked the spot and headed up to Ann-Marees camper to confirm – Yes! It was one of them, but not the treasured heirloom.
But, I now had a pin in the map! I knew that if I didn’t find the second ring this time around, it would be lost to the beach with the heavy surf. The beach contour had already changed significantly in the time I had been there.
I headed back and started a focussed search in the area. Another brass screw, bit of wire, odd scraps of metal… then deep and quiet, there was something. I wound the volume right up in the headphones to try and hear it over the surf. Has to be it.
Several hasty scoops later and I had the second ring.
Ann-Maree had given hem up for lost.
I refused to.
Gold and Diamond Ring Lost Swimming at Tutukaka 5 Weeks ago – Found.
Wedding Ring Lost at Ocean Beach, Found after Two Months in the Sand
At the end of December, after a day at Ocean Beach near Whangarei, Karen arrived back home to realise she had lost her ring back at the beach.
She had taken it off to apply sunscreen and presumably left it on the towel, and flicked it off when she packed up.
She drove out again to try and find it with her friend who owned a metal detector, but had no luck.
Successive attempts by various people with detectors were also unsuccessful, and she had all but given it up as lost.
As is often the case, it was the sentimental rather than the monetary value that hurt the most.
I was in the Whangarei area to hand over another previously found ring and had come down very early to spend some time at Ocean Beach to see if I could find her lost wedding ring.
Sitting in the carpark just before dawn, I went through her Facebook post again. She had noted several crucial times: When she was at the beach initially, and also when she went back to look and found the tide had covered the spot. Quick flick back to the December tide tables allowed me to work out how far below high tide mark she had been sitting.
She had also had the presence of mind to take photos of landmark alignments which while giving a relatively accurate fix, could equally work against us if a casual detectorist had intentionally sought to pocket it.
A very small white gold ring, lost on a popular surf beach with nearly a two month headstart and an accurate description of the location posted on social media, I wasn’t too optimistic to be honest – but you have to believe it’s there… having that valuable edge of experience to sway the odds in your favour helps.
It was still dark and no moon, but I could see the silhouette of the landmarks against the city glow behind the hills. After a few dry runs to get the best of three guesses as to location, I took the average of the three and started the grid.
Within fifteen minutes, I had the ring in the pouch.
I posted a photo of the ring as a reply to Karens original post, and hoped she would see it before I had to head back north. She did, and several hours later, I met up with Karen and handed her ring back to her.
Two rings handed back in one day – It’s a good feeling.
Ring Lost in Surf at Whangarei – Found after Four Days
iPhone se Found on Random Hunt at Matauri Bay – Traced and Returned
Not all recoveries are planned, some are random exercises in detective work.
I was working Matauri Bay beach doing a casual hunt before work this morning, when I dug an iPhone SE. Usually phones are no more than fancy spirit levels when they come out of the tide but this one was a recent loss and showed potential to be able to at least allow the owner to salvage their photos and contacts.
I headed off to work a bit early in order to put the phone through intensive care, quick rinse in fresh water, dried it off and delicately picked the sand out of the charging port. Firing it up, it flickered to life, complained about flat battery and shut down. It lives! Hopefully I could now reunite the owner with their rather expensive phone.
While I charged it, I swapped the sim out into my phone to discover a couple of missed calls which occurred after loss and looked promising leads.
Dropped the sim back into the found phone and sent a text to both numbers from my one explaining the situation and asking if they had a name I could follow up…and waited.
On the off-chance it had been dropped by a camper at the adjacent holiday park, I phoned the office to enquire if anyone had lost a phone recently.
“Yes, a white iPhone”, “Well, I have found it!” – A cheer is heard in the background at the other end of the line. I arranged to drop it off after work.
It seems Nakita had dropped it a couple of days previously, the fact it had survived at least three tides was a testament to the quality of the phone as it had lain under the sand at about the half-tide mark spending quite a few hours underwater at each high tide.
A family member gratefully accepted it on behalf, and I headed home.
Two Rings Lost at Tapuaetahi Beach – Found!
It’s been a long, hot, and very dry summer – Perfect for beach-goers to relax on the sand, and lose their precious jewellery.
Marion contacted me after hearing about The Ringfinders, and explained how she had been holidaying as a guest at a private beach, notoriously difficult to access and requests from non-residents – Including Ringfinders on a recovery mission, were met with a negative answer.
Marion was also unable to regain access so I knew that I would have to call in some favours on this one in order to get through the electronic gate and be able to find her rings without coming back to find my car towed.
This is when I recalled a discussion with Tim last year after I found his ring at nearby Matauri Bay ( Story here). At the time, Tim had queried the likelihood of finding another ring with a 30 year headstart, lost in a rocky bay while surfing at the same private property. It wouldn’t have moved or been detected, but thirty years… and clefts and crevices would be needle in a haystack. The upside was he could gain access through his contacts, and I would spend some time looking for his ring first.
The duly appointed day arrived and as the gate slid open and I drove through, it felt like I was entering Hallowed ground. It was several kilometres to the bay, surrounded by the residents houses. Fully expecting to be challenged I was surprised to be waved at as I passed walkers and people tending their gardens. I casually waved back while working out a plan B in case I returned to find my car had been towed due to a breakdown in communication…
The bay where Tim lost his ring was a sea of basalt boulders, most weighing 40+ kg. Tim, his wife and I of us spent a full hour, each with pinpointers rummaging in and around, but short of a systematic stringline search taking some weeks, any recovery would have been pure dumb luck. We located the remains of a fishing reel and one fishing weight. Tim conceded his ring had a new home and at least we had spent a cumulative time of three hours on it.
We headed back to the main beach and as I got kitted up at the car, Tim and his wife took their chairs etc down the path onto the sand.
With my experience in Search and Rescue, I have developed a fondness for tracking humans, a skill which has served me well as a RingFinder. It wasn’t surprising to see that Tim and his wife had set up their chairs in the primary area of interest. Humans can be so predictable in their unconscious decisions!
“You are kidding?” when I asked Tim to move a dozen metres to the right. I briefly explained behavioural profiling and how we, as a species, tend to follow the same instinctive actions. They took it in good humour as they moved their new basecamp.
A few minutes later, Marions’ first white gold ring appeared in the scoop – right where Tim and his wife had been sitting! Tims wife didn’t believe how fast it had been found and as they were admiring the ring, I started the spiral search and less than a metre away, the second emerged.
I texted Marion the good news and as I headed back to the car, a young lad passed me with his metal detector heading for the beach…
Gold Earring Lost in Sand at Whangaroa, Found and Returned.
I got a call late last night from Sophie, asking if I was able to find a lost gold earring in the sand.
She had been playing volleyball on the beach at Tauranga Bay near Whangaroa in the Far North of New Zealand, and at some stage in the rough and tumble the earring was lost into the sand. A fellow camper at the Tauranga Bay campsite had heard of or witnessed my successful recovery of a lost engagement ring there just a couple of days ago. It was a simple matter to track down The Ringfinders to save the day (well, night)
It was just about low tide when she phoned, dinner could wait but time and tide waits for no-one, it was 50km away and night searches in the water aren’t fun. I threw the water kit in the car and headed off.
They had left the net up so I could see where they had been playing, but the giveaway was the parallel lines and grubbing about of what looked like a group of people doing a shoulder to shoulder contact search through the sand. It was just on sunset when I started and worked the court area and the principle traffic area back towards the camp. I became aware of an audience in the dark, comfortably seated and watching what must be the most boring spectator event ever! However they were to disappointed as the only two targets found were a hair clip and a 10c piece. Confident I had cleared the site, it was either deep or not in the indicated area.
After confirming clothing etc had been checked to make sure it hadn’t been caught up, I said I would return in the morning with a deeper coil.
Up at 4am to drive back to the beach. Aside from a few torches of bleary-eyed campers stumbling around the campsite it was just me and my detector. I re-ran the original grid, picking up some deeper junk targets before widening the search area. I dropped over the change in contour where the waves had lapped on last nights high tide and off to the outside of one corner of the original grid I picked up a quiet ‘double-thud’ of a circular object – but could be an old can pulltab down deep.
Yes, it was deep, nearly 30cm down, but it wasn’t a pulltab as my fingers closed on the familiar shape of a sand-filled ring in the dark. Verified in the headlamp, and Job Done!
I scratched a message to Sophie in the sand: “FOUND IT! Back at 4pm” and headed off to work.
Later that morning I got a TXT from Sophie who had seen the message and was overjoyed at the retrieval of her lost earring. By 4pm, it was back in her hands (to be put safely away with the other one for the remainder of their holiday)
Silver ring lost in sea, quickly returned in Paihia
Jess was swimming at Paihia, in Northland, NZ when she felt the large silver ring slip off her finger.Her boyfriend tracked me down via a web search and I arranged to meet them at the next low tide.
The beach had largely emptied after the New Year holiday-makers so I was able to run a comprehensive grid without hindrance of sunbathers/swimmers or inquisitive children.
As the search area started to open up from their ‘Lost here’ best guess, and with the pouch slowly filling with metallic chaff and the occassional toy car I started to consider other options and second guess myself.
Had it been picked up by an eagle-eyed passer by as the tide dropped? Had I missed it with one slightly lazy swipe of the coil?
Despite these niggles, I stuck to the grid and started out into the water. It had started raining, so I was already wet and with the beach being actively dragged down by the ebbing waves I needed to work this area as best I could before the shells etc buried it if it was out there.
After about three or four passes out to the edge of the actively mobile sand, I got a faint silver tone. Wave surge made it difficult to accurately fix the position, and it was still in the hole after the first scoopful came out. I briefly glimpsed it as it settled in the slurry of shell and sand. This is where you can lose a ring down deep if not careful. The scoop went in again, well under the ring and heaved the contents out. Hole checked and clear. I had it.
Jess and Johnny were already making their way down the beach towards me as I held the ring up… And the sun started to come out.
New Engagement Ring Lost in Surf – Found and Returned, Tauranga Bay, NZ