Every cloud is supposed to have a silver lining, and one Far North couple certainly aren't arguing with that philosophy.

Joe and Gretta Rogers, who have owned the Taupo Bay Holiday Park for nine years, were carrying on as normal on Tuesday, selling ice creams in their tiny shop and putting out the rubbish.

But any worries they might have thanks to a slightly less frantic peak summer season than usual were lifted at 8pm on Saturday when they won a $500,000 share of the Lotto First Divison prize.

Joe and Gretta are not especially enthusiastic investors in Lotto, picking up the odd ticket here and there when they have a couple of dollars rattling in their pockets, they are feeling lucky or a jackpot becomes particularly tempting, but there was a different story behind this windfall.


It began when Joe noticed a split in the camp's water tank. He drained some of the water off to relieve the pressure but the split continued to widen, until finally it blew - while he was standing between the tank and his garage.

Joe joked later with some guests that he had caught the best wave of the day, but the force propelled him into the garage wall with sufficient force to break a couple of studs. A slightly different angle and he would have been flung into a concrete block smoker, which could have done real damage.

Joe's mate Malcolm Hobbs came to the rescue, delivering and installing a smaller temporary tank to resolve the camp's water issues, and once that was done Joe began counting his blessings - and decided that the outcome of what could have been a very nasty incident warranted investing in a Lotto ticket.

He shot into Mangonui Stationery and Lotto, bought a $12 lucky dip and didn't think much more about it.

It wasn't until he went back to the Lotto shop to get his papers that Joe heard it had sold a big winner. That put him in with a chance, he thought, as he retrieved his ticket from the glovebox, pausing for a moment to ponder how nice it would be to collect a windfall, but he still wasn't expecting the message he saw flash up on the screen.

By Tuesday morning the couple had celebrated their win with friends and contacted their accountant and bank manager. Most of the $500,000 would be "chewed up" by the mortgage, Joe said, with the rest destined to be spent on doing things around the camp that were still on the wishlist.

A chippie by trade, he had been upgrading the camp progressively, as capital allowed, but now the process would be hastened considerably.

The windfall didn't do him much good when he filled up with gas at Cooper's Beach on Monday though. Noting that the service station policy was to confiscate the cars of customers who couldn't pay for what they had put in their tank, he was mortified to find himself in exactly that position, his card having expired and his pockets not yielding as much as he needed.


"They know me there so it wasn't a problem, but it did occur to me that it was odd, a Lotto winner not being able to pay for his petrol," he said.

And had he ever won Lotto before?"

"No. I won Gretta, and she was worth winning," he said before he went to put the rubbish out.