It wasn't the $500 reward but the owners' keen eye which saw a stolen caravan returned to its rightful home yesterday.

Napier couple Chris and Lorraine Hayne offered $500 for the return of a missing caravan, which they bought after their first washed out to sea in a flood.

They enjoyed two summers in the 7.6m vehicle at Kairakau Beach Camp but in May it disappeared from a private camping ground in Te Apiti Rd, where it was being stored for the winter.

On Monday night, as Mr Hayne searched for a replacement on Trade Me, he found a promising option in Masterton - though at $10,000 it cost more than they wanted to pay.


"Pretty much as soon as I clicked on the images, I knew it was ours," he told Hawke's Bay Today.

"I didn't expect it at all. We contacted police in Masterton who didn't seem that interested, so I drove there and went around with police to seize it."

It was being sold through a dealer who claimed he bought it from a Hawke's Bay man for $3000 and it was still listed on Trade Me last night under the heading "1976 caravan".

Their discovery came the same day a story ran in Hawke's Bay Today notifying people of the $500 reward. However, only one person had come forward with a lead in that time and it was a dead-end.

Aside from a change in colour scheme from brown to blue there was no damage to the caravan, although belongings such as a fridge, TV, pots and pans were all gone. Mrs Hayne was impressed with the new paint job.

"Blue is my favourite colour," she said. "We were just so fortunate that we came across it when we did."

When it was taken, the vehicle did not have a warrant or registration and one of its tyres was flat.

"It must have been towed with a flat tyre because it was still like that when we found it.

"It didn't have any lights or brakes, though, so they must have taken the back roads.

"They registered it. Maybe if we had left it a bit longer they would have got all the windows fixed."

Finding the caravan was a huge relief as he had bought it from his brother-in-law for a reasonable price and didn't expect to replace it for that amount.

"We only wanted to pay $7500 to $8000 to buy and do it up a bit - we didn't have any insurance."

In 2011 their first caravan was washed away from Kairakau Beach with two others during a freak storm which devastated the East Coast.