Northland Ring Finder Tag | The Ring Finders

Ring lost in Surf at Woolleys Bay, Recovered at 4am

  • from Paihia (New Zealand)

Joanne posted on Facebook that she had lost her special silver ring in the surf at Woolleys bay, and asked if anyone had found it.

Knowing the beach well, I knew the ring would already be well under the surface, and likely quite deep with a few tides having passed since.
I very rarely solicit recoveries, however there was a very small window to be able to have any chance of recovering this ring, so I made contact.

Leaving at 1am that night, I made the two hour drive to Woolleys Bay. There was still enough moonlight to see without artificial lights, it’s very meditative searching a remote surf beach at night.
I got started in the cool morning air.

Joanne had given me a rough location, the time it was lost and a photo taken at the time showing the group in the water.

Recent rough seas had changed the contour of the beach and I calculated the delicate silver ring would likely have moved further seawards down the steep slope so biased the first grid to account for this.

As the tide started to turn and the sweeping waves started to absorb my grid lines, I heard a small fluctuation in the background tone.
I re-scanned it with different settings and decided it was definitely a viable target

The shingle was below tide water level and collapsed as quickly as I could dig with the scoop. After about four or five rapid scoops, whatever it was now lay in the small mound on the beach.
It didn’t take long before a silver ring matching the description was laying in my hand.

4am was a bit too early to call Joanne with the good news(!),  so I headed off to kill some time until a more civilised hour.

Later that day, Joanne met up with me a little way down the coast at Whangaumu Bay for the handover.

It wasn’t a valuable ring, but was treasured by Joanne as it had been purchased on a holiday and encapsulated those special memories.
You couldn’t replace that.

Tearful Loss of Wedding Ring at Ruakaka, Tearful Reunion When Found

  • from Paihia (New Zealand)

A very tearful Laura phoned – she had just watched her wedding ring vanish into the sand beneath her feet while in the sea at Ruakaka.

Her husband immediately grabbed the pink swimming goggles off the indignant daughter and he spent a long time searching for it until he was, as Laura described, “mildly hypothermic”.

I had recently returned a lost ring for Jax, Laura’s mother in law, and Jax recommended that Laura contact me immediately.

Which she did.

In the busiest summer season yet, I had literally only just returned from another ocean recovery 150km away near Whangarei and was exhausted. However, the emotion and desperation on the other end of the phone was very real – So I grabbed a strong coffee, some food, and threw the wet gear back in the car and made the two hour drive south.

I knew this part of the beach is metal detected every night at this time of year, and I was determined that this ring wouldn’t become part of someone’s collection.

On arrival the family met me, and Laura took me down to the beach and indicated the corridor where she thought the ring lay.

Fortunately, after a few days of strong offshore winds the surf was uncharacteristically very small for this coast. This was partially offset though by the corridor being right in the middle of the narrow surf lifesaving patrolled area, so lots of people to work around…

I did a quick scoping search, however this yielded nothing and ultimately I had to resort to my proven techniques to ensure every square inch was covered.

The beach was relatively trash-free, so the interruptions to the background threshold tones were few, and quickly dismissed.

Line by line I slowly closed off the indicated area, and I was starting to pre-plan the next search phase.

Suddenly a bold, gold tone in the headphones – The scoop came up out of the water and I rinsed the sand away.

There was Laura’s gold wedding ring.

I held it up to Laura, sitting on the beach, and she let loose with whoops and yells – closely followed by the rest of the beach!
They had by now all heard the story about this strange person zig-zagging around in the waves and had become invested in what I refer to as “The Worlds Most Boring Spectator Sport”.

After the excitement subsided, the handshakes and hugs done, I parked the car in the shade and slept solidly for a few hours before the drive home.

Lost Ring on 90 Mile Beach, NZ. Found!

  • from Paihia (New Zealand)

90 Mile Beach (Te-Oneroa-a-Tōhē) in the north of New Zealand is a vast, flat, featureless strip of sand. Open to the Tasman Sea, the surf is generally large and relentless.
Layers of titanomagnetite (iron sand) cause issues with most metal detectors, and there is a definite art to being able to hear through the constant background chatter and identify your target.

Especially when you’re searching for a gold ring lost a week prior, with big surf moving tonnes of sand on every tide…

Wain had been playing with his daughter on a bodyboard in the waves when the ring slipped off his finger.
He glimpsed it sitting on the sand momentarily, before a wave buffeted him and he lost sight of it. Efforts to refind it were in vain, it had already sunk into the sand.

The ring had been passed down from his late father, so was of huge sentimental value. Fortunately, the family had done everything right to maximise their chances of getting the ring back.
Wain had taken several bearings by lining up features on land and on the rocks nearby. His wife had used her phone to obtain a GPS pinned location and they had contacted an experienced Ring Finder as soon as possible.

I left straight from work and met Wain and family at Ahipara at dead low tide.
With the contour being so flat, the tide retreats a long way which exposed the area of loss. It also comes back in pretty quickly too.
I had a couple of hours before the water returned and covered the search area.

I had two start points, Wains old-school triangulation using transit bearings and the GPS location.

A quick search around each estimated position revealed nothing, so I started the search in earnest.

Wain mentioned that the sand seemed higher against the rocks which didn’t bode well, so with the detector settings opened right up to maximum for a deep target I commenced the grid. The headset twittering and chattering incessantly with the iron sand interference.

The grid slowly spiralled away from their marks in the sand, a few possible targets were dug, mostly ancient nails from shipping pallets used in beach bonfires. Someones long lost stainless steel ring gave the heart a kick, but at least I knew I was getting the depth I needed.

The grid got larger and larger and the family drifted away leaving Wain sitting on a nearby rock. From his body language I could sense his hope fading.

I decided to reorientate, and move further towards the rocks. Assume nothing, Check everything, Believe No-one.

Almost immediately I heard something in amongst the background noise. Deep and messy signal, but definitely a solid target in the ironsand.

The scoop powered its way through the different coloured layers of sand.
I waved the coil over the last scoopful lying on the beach beside the adjacent crater. I knew from the signal this was it.
Tapping the clumps of sand with my foot to break them up, the yellow edge of a ring flashed in the late afternoon sun.

Wains face broke into a huge smile when he saw me hold it up. The relief and emotion was certainly evident and the ring immediately went back on his finger.

As we walked back, the incoming tide started to erase my grid in the sand…

Keys Lost in Kerikeri Paddock – Found

  • from Paihia (New Zealand)

My current run of enquiries to find lost keys continues…

Nadège contacted me through the local Paihia Facebook group – a visitor of hers had lost keys in a paddock while working the previous day.

These lost keys were critical as they held, amongst others, the keys to his van and lockup.

On arrival, the “Long Grass” turned out to be rank overgrown pasture, and the search area covered an hours-worth of meandering track around the paddock and through two swampy streams.

I prepared myself for a prolonged mentally and physically difficult session.

Bob took me around and showed me where he had walked including where he had deviated to fix various things or pull out weeds. Identifying his original route was very difficult due to his previous attempts to retrace his steps looking for them at the time which gave me several tracks all the same age – and the cows that were also wandering around had added their own tracks, although they were mostly readily identified as such.  I did a cursory scan as we walked, finding several piles of old metal stakes, wire, poles and pipes buried in the grass. Farms are almost as bad as suburbia for background noise.

We completed the circuit, and Bob left me to it. As the coil would be 1-2ft above the ground due to the rank growth, I wound the settings right up to maximise the chances of picking up the keys. Whilst this would ensure a strong signal (as long as the coil went over them), it meant the phones were chattering constantly with other background noise from the neighbors electric fences, long lost buried tools, wire, fence staples and so on. Each strong signal had to be checked through the grass, before moving on. Whilst this was quick, it was a very frequent occurrence, however if it wasn’t the intended target, it could stay there, whatever it was.   I was on a mission.

Nearly three hours later, with the highest probability areas now cleared to a 90%+ detection rate, I was struggling to work out where they could be – Were they even in the paddock? Could Bob have left them somewhere back at the house?

Bob had walked along the short grass of the mown track each time he’d done the circuit looking for them, and indeed, I had walked it with him today- but a bunch of keys with a red tag would have been easily visible here.

I started back up the hill to focus on a few spots which had a lot of metal rubbish, absent-mindedly swinging the coil over the mown track as I went, when the headphones screamed!

In the middle of the track, was a cow pat with a solid signal!  On closer inspection, I could see the blade of a key and the edge of a red plastic tag emerging from underneath.  The cow must have dropped the pat on the dropped keys, between Bob losing them, and his coming back this way to look for them!

Hidden, in plain sight.

I dug them out, gave them a quick rinse in a nearby trough and headed back up the hill. Relieved that this search, one of the most difficult in a while, was now over.

Assume Nothing, Check Everything…


Ring Lost in Whangarei Paddock for Two Years – Found!

  • from Paihia (New Zealand)

Nearly two years ago, Jono lost his wedding ring in a farm paddock.
He had been walking back across the paddock towards the house, after working in one of the outbuildings. Idly playing with the ring as he walked.
Once back at the house, he noticed it was now missing.

Retracing his steps failed to locate it in the grass, and he reluctantly gave it up as lost.
After reading about my recent recoveries, Jono decided it might be worth trying to retrieve the ring and gave me a call.

He wanted it, hopefully, to be a surprise for his wife so he cunningly organised the search for when she wasn’t home 🙂
I met up with Jono shortly after she had left and we went through the details of the loss, and where he thought it might be.
While he went to turn off the electric fence, I showed his young kids how the detector worked, giving each a turn on the headphones while I waved my hand with my own wedding ring over the coil.
It was a struggle getting the phones back off the youngest, who was transfixed by the detector chattering away due to the overhead powerlines.

The search area was going to be a corridor across the paddock. Starting at the fence nearest the house, I began to work my way across the paddock towards the shed.
Early in the search, I unearthed one of his childrens toy cars – so someone was happy already 🙂
Stock had pugged the ground fairly badly, so I was listening for a deeper target. After a few false hits I got a clean non-ferrous tone about 15-20cm down.
I dug the small spade in and turned a clod of soil over. In the bottom of the upturned plug was his ring.
Still shiny in the sunlight after its time underground.
Smiles all round.

Ironically, Jono is the immediate neighbour of another recovery I had previously done.
Jono lives directly over the road from Luke who had his wedding ring sucked off his finger by a calf he was feeding a couple of years ago. Also found and returned, again from a paddock, and just a couple of days before his anniversary.

Lost Ring in Whangarei Paddock – Found!

  • from Paihia (New Zealand)
At the start of this year, I carried out a ring recovery at Tutukaka for Lorelles husband who had lost his signet ring in the water.
I certainly didn’t expect a message from Lorelle seven months later, asking me to find HER ring…
She had taken the ring off to put moisturiser on and had transferred the ring to another finger.
Later, she had been tending to her pony at their home in Kamo, feeding hay, taking covers off, you know the sort of horsey things – and all in nice soft mud.
As Lorelle told me the story over the phone, I was sticking pins in the mental map and by the time she got to, “When I got back to the house, it was missing” I had already formed a good idea of where and how I would be searching.
I drove down this morning, and met her husband at the paddock with an icey southerly blast tearing through.
We ran through the story again, from his viewpoint this time, which confirmed the likely area to be the long grass between the car and the pony.
He had already tried with a borrowed metal detector but had been unable to locate the ring. This is where an experienced metal detectorist with the right skill set to know not only where to search, but also how to search makes the difference.
The 33kV powerlines overhead were certainly upsetting my machine, and some tweaking was required to filter out most, but not all, of the interference.
I started the search pattern where the car had been parked and within 5 minutes, parted the grass to reveal a beautiful emerald ring.
It was a long journey for a five minute search, but it could well have taken five hours…or more – You can never tell until that elusive ring is safely recovered.
Lorelle now has her ring back on her finger, and no doubt there will be some friendly banter between them about each losing their ring !