Chris Spurr took leave without pay for a week and hoped to win at least $1000 from a fishing competition to cover loss of wages.
Instead, he and three mates took home a whopping $37,100 in prize money from the Durapanel 90 Mile Beach Snapper Bonanza that attracted the biggest turnout in the competition's seven-year history.
About 835 anglers entered and caught 880 fish in beautiful conditions over the competition which ran from Tuesday to Saturday.
The father-of-three from Gisborne landed the heaviest fish in the competition, a 6.175kg snapper, and won $30,000 cash and a further $2000 for catching the heaviest snapper on the day on Wednesday.
As a team they bagged another $5100 during the competition.
He rushed home yesterday to celebrate his first wedding anniversary.
Mr Spurr's winning snapper took the bait about 8.30am on Wednesday, dragged him about 50m and his line tangled into another fishing line.
"There were multiple fishermen to my right at the time. I knew it was a good fish but didn't think it could end up being the heaviest. It looked to be an average fish.
"It measured 66cm but because we didn't think it was big enough to be weighed, we put it in a chill bin and continued fishing," he said.
Mr Spurr first took part in the Durapanel 90 Mile Beach Snapper Bonanza in 2015 but could not make it last year.
"We got married on the Saturday the competition ended last year. Next year is maybe trouble for me because the fishing competition's last day falls on the day of our wedding anniversary," he said.
The recreational fisherman started fishing with friends as a 5-year-old and takes part in fishing competitions throughout the country.
In November last year, he won $500 cash for catching the heaviest snapper at the Great Exhibition Bay Fishing Competition at Te Kao. The fish weighed 5.5kg.
The four friends will share the $37,100 they won altogether as they had planned.
"Each of us will get just over $9000 which for me is great because I took one week's leave without pay and thought I would win at least $1000 in the fishing competition to cover lost wages."
He has not ruled out using the money on a honeymoon trip overseas.
Snapper Bonanza co-organiser John Stewart said despite the large turn-out of competitors, Spurr's fish was the smallest fish to win the competition in the seven years he's been running it.
The average size of a winning snapper had been 9.7kg during that period.
He said people from as far away as Austria, England, Canada and Australia took part.
The heaviest snapper in the competition's history was 12.030kg, caught by Te Puke's Darin Maxwell in 2012.