As a keen adventurer Kevin MacKenzie has been to Whangārei's Abbey Caves plenty of times but it was on his latest visit he made an ancient, prehistoric discovery.
MacKenzie had taken his two exchange students to the caves on Anniversary Day.
Cecilia Fossati from Italy and Christiane Dobberstein from Germany are both exchange students at Kamo High School.
Fossati had only arrived in New Zealand days before the discovery, while Dobberstein had been here since July.
"I always take my exchange students to Abbey Caves for adventures when they get here."
MacKenzie said they come out of the caves and were looking around the rocks when he spotted something sticking out of the ground under some overhanging rocks.
He said it "looked like a person going yay" with their arms in the air.
MacKenzie headed over and careful dug the remaining part of the bone out of the ground.
"I thought that's a strange-shaped bone."
He left it where he found it but when he got home he started searching on the internet.
He knew it wasn't sheep, cow or human bone but starting thinking "what else might be running around Abbey Caves".
MacKenzie thought of moa, searched them and recognised the "strange shaped" bone he had found was a bone in a moa's foot.
He went back the next day and along with the first bone, found another one lying just in amongst the leaves and dirt on the surface. He dug "a bit further down" and found more.
All up he found four bigger bones, and a handful of smaller ones, including parts of the pelvis.
The following day he took it to the Whangārei Museum where he had it confirmed they were moa bones.
Dobberstein said the discovery was "very interesting". "It's something old, not just a cow or sheep bone".
MacKenzie said he had found sheep, cow and horse bones during his many adventures before but never bones belonging to moa.
The bones have not yet been accessioned at the museum.
Exhibits curator Georgia Kerby said the bones will be delicately cleaned up. She said the pieces will be catalogued with a number.
"That means that when they're in their dry, clean, dark storage facility it means they're going to last a lot longer."
Kerby said the bones will develop the reference collection, which they can use to compare pieces and possibly identify other details such as species or age.
The archived reference section is available for public access by appointment.
It's not the first time moa bones have been discovered in the Abbey Caves area.
In 2013, Ian Calder found an almost complete moa skeleton and the bones of three others in the cave on his 20ha lifestyle block in Abbey Caves Rd near Whareora.
They form a large display on moa at the Whangārei Museum.
The moa was a large, flightless bird that lived on New Zealand until 1400 years AD.
There were around 11 species of moa, some of which appeared on the planet 2.4 million years ago.
Moa were able to reach 12 feet in height and up to 550 pounds of weight. It was one of the tallest birds that ever lived on the planet. Females were taller and heavier than males.
Moa were covered with rough feathers that were brown or black in color.
Moa were ostrich-like birds with a small head, a stout, triangular beak, long neck, large body and strong legs.
Mao had very long necks that were probably held in a horizontal position (even though they are often portrayed upright to emphasise their length).
Moa didn't have wings (not even rudimentary wings that are typical for modern flightless birds).
Moa were ground-dwelling birds that were able to run very fast.
Moa were herbivores. Their diet was based mostly on the ferns, fibrous twigs and leaves.
Haast's eagle and humans were the only natural enemies of moa. Haast's eagle became extinct shortly after disappearance of moa (due to lack of food).