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)
New Engagement Ring Lost in Surf – Found and Returned, Tauranga Bay, NZ
Diamonds lost in sand, found within two minutes
Sarah was enjoying the summer with her family at Taupo Bay, a lovely ocean beach in the north of New Zealand.
Taking her gold and diamond wedding ring off to apply sunscreen to her son before a swim, it wasn’t until she got back to where she was staying that she realised the ring was now absent.
Fortunately, I had only recently posted in the local community Facebook page trying to find the owner of a couple of silver rings located during a casual hunt there, Sarah saw this and contacted me.
I met her on site the following day and she went through the what’s and where’s surrounding the loss of her wedding ring, indicating where the group had been spread out. A scoop hole nearby didn’t bode well, but this is a game of inches and there was a good chance a casual detector had missed it.
Kids had since excavated a massive crater in the beach in the two days after Sarahs visit, and I was fully expecting to have to return here and manhandle a few hundred kilos of sand back into the hole to get to the original beach surface under the pile of sand around it…
Luck was with me today though, another dozen paces and I got a nice “dig me” tone.
The scoop went in, I emptied it across the surface, and a line of diamonds wrapped in wet sand twinkled in the early evening sun.
Sarah was overjoyed – and check out the cheesy grin on her son 🙂
Gold and Diamond Ring Lost at Kerikeri, New Zealand – Found!
Barrys wife was swimming and playing with her grand-daughter in the sea in the Bay of Islands, NZ, last night.
As she went to do a handstand she felt her precious gold and diamond ring slip off her finger and into the cloudy water.
Fabricated from her mothers jewellery, she was understandably very distraught – returning with a torch that night to search for the lost ring.
Again she tried, at sunrise this morning, she was back with a mask and snorkel – but to no avail.
Shortly afterwards, Barry found me through a web search for ring recoveries, finding lost rings and metal detectors and gave me a call.
As luck would have it, it was just approaching low tide and I was only 30min away so threw the kit in the wagon and headed out.
On arrival, I saw she was standing diligently at ‘Spot X’. I went through the backstory of how she lost the ring, state of tide, depth of water, whether she was on shingle, sand or silt underfoot etc and started to work the grid.
Starting in the water, I worked back and forth along the beach. Ploughing my way through the many trash signals, digging a few that were too close to call. Eventually I emerged onto the beach and continued up past the depth she had indicated (Assume Nothing, Believe No-One, Check Everything)
There was evidence of recent detecting with scoop holes in the water and backfilled holes on the beach, as expected at this time of year with the influx of holidaymakers, although they were unlikely to have been created in the short period between time of loss and my arrival.
Initial search area was eventually cleared with no result, I discussed the search with them and we shifted slightly to one side towards where they had come down onto the beach.
Seconds into the new area, less than a metre outside the original grid boundary(!) I caught the ring, tucked snugly into the gravel about 2-3 inches down – To an ecstatic cheer from it’s owner…and I went home to finish my lunch 🙂
Wedding Ring Lost When Boat Capsized in Surf – Found!
Tim had lent his boat to his mates for a fishing trip out from Matauri Bay in Northland, New Zealand.
Tragically the boat went broadside and suffered a capsize as they were coming back in through the surf and was, shall we say, pummelled.
His gold wedding ring had been in a cupholder onboard and during the subsequent carnage in the waves, was lost.
Spin forward three months. Tim made contact with me and asked what the chances were… Matauri Bay? Ocean beach, with such a big head start? I wasn’t too optimistic – Until I heard that the guys in the boat had taken note of the approximate location which at least gave me some sort of start point, and I knew there would be other items lost such as fishing gear which would assist me in pinpointing the exact location. The time elapsed was still a real concern though, as we had had a couple of good storms including a 1 in 500yr monster that wrought destruction across the region – with seas to match, and Matauri has no significant shallow hard bedding layer for the ring to settle on.
I let him know the odds were less than great, but would have a look to gauge whether it was worth actively searching or adding it to my ‘cold-case’ book.
I met Tim onsite the following day, and recapped the events of the day with him.
Without having one of the guys actually involved in the capsize there, it was Chinese Whispers over the phone….describing a featureless beach.
You have to start somewhere, and I had already started working a grid when he arrived, initially focussing on locating any concentration of targets.
It was not to be, and an endless stream of light targets of bottle caps, aluminium can tabs and corroded foil told me the sand was now deep over the site. Winding the machine to “redline” gave a few very rusty jigheads from a long way down but they looked too old – and I can guarantee Tims boat wasn’t the first, nor will it be the last to get trashed here.
Despite this false start, I was confident that I could find the debris field – Given time.
Over the course of many 2 and 3am starts, the big tides are never sympathetic to normal business hours, I started to pick up a few lead sinkers. Then a small tackle box and a large knife, both really deep down… Tim confirmed it was his knife and I could finally put a pin in the map! The only problem was the depth of sand and the now common metal detectors carried by holidaymakers at the local motorcamp just 50m away…
More visits and many night starts made for some looong days at my regular job, although bits of fishing kit started to consistently surface. I needed to clear all the jigs, lead, hooks etc in order to be able to hear the ring which would likely be under all this ‘noise’.
The other morning saw another rainy 2am start to catch the big tides. I settled in on the mark and quickly started digging fishing gear right on the low water line, a pair of pliers, knife, hooks – This was promising, very promising as it was obvious some sand had been lost.
I stayed in that same spot, digging target after target…after target. The pouch was starting to slide off my hips I had so much fishing kit in it. But no ring, and after 4 hours, the tide was chasing me out. I knew that if I walked away now I might lose the chance for another few months, or even years. What started out as wet sand was now wading depth with gumboots long since filled with water! I carried on digging oh, so many, many irritating small sinkers as the first light of dawn grew in the sky, and the cutoff to call it off and head off to work drew closer.
Yet another 1oz weight, check the hole, another, check the hole….a soft tone, down deep. There it was again. A half dozen quick deep scoops lifted it out of the hole and a flash of yellow in the scoop.
Tim was on holiday when I sent him the TXT and photo of the finds, asking why he uses solid gold fishing weights!
Two weeks later, this afternoon and after six months apart, the ring finally made its way home.
Three months head start, and another three to locate it – Ringfinding is definitely not for the impatient
Kerikeri Phone Lost in Long Grass – Found!
Yesterday, Seans young son was doing some TikTok clips with his friend.
For what ever reason, the phone was flung away to the side – and into the deep mattress of overgrown Kikuyu grass around them. Efforts by Sean and his son to find the phone failed to locate the phone visually (flat battery, so no ringtones) and so Sean turned to the internet for assistance to try and recover the lost phone.
It was a reasonably straightforward job, with no interference from electric fences which are very common in this rural area. With a systematic approach, and based on experience with recovering ‘thrown’ items, the phone was quickly located outside the indicated area, as they so often are.
It was a sheepish, but relieved lad who got called over to collect his phone out of the grass.
Diamond and Gold Ring Lost While Swimming at Paihia – Found!
Diana was visiting the Bay of Islands for Waitangi Day, and decided to go for a dip to cool off after the drive up.
Sadly, the cold water shrunk her fingers and the ring flew off as her arm came over on the first stroke when she started her swim. Fortunately her friend was there and made a note of roughly where she was, and current state of the tide. She contacted me the following day to see if I was able to help.
It appeared to be a relatively easy recovery. I was given a start point and direction the ring was thought to have gone. After 5 hours and covering almost quarter of square kilometre of quiet bay to 98% confidence, including just over 3kg of fishing weights, I decided it wasn’t there.
Falling back to my mantra of “Assume Nothing, Believe No-one, Confirm Everything” I wiped the slate and worked on basis that the only 100% definite was I knew where she had entered the water, and that was the last time she knew she had the ring on.
Very shortly after, I reached down under the coil in the knee-deep shallows and felt the ring sitting under a clump of seaweed on the surface of the rock. Three of the largest diamonds I’ve seen sparkled brightly as they broke the surface of the muddy water. Job Done.
I would have liked to deliver it in person, but had to settle with giving it a clean and polish, a bit of gift wrapping, and sending it back by courier.
It’s now back on her finger, hopefully for good 🙂