A prospector with a metal detector, great detective skills and a good heart has reunited a couple in Britain with a wedding ring lost in the surf in New Zealand.
Whangarei man Ed Harding found the platinum wedding band buried in the sand on Lang's Beach north of Auckland last week.
Usually on the lookout for artefacts Harding said he "knew he had found something special" when he dug up the ring.
"As soon as I picked it up I knew it was special because a silver ring just doesn't feel as heavy as this did," he said.
"It was a unique design and I know if I lost my wedding ring I wouldn't be happy with a substitute, it's not the same."
Harding, 70, inspected the ring when he got home and found it had a London hallmark and the initials W&T.
It took some time scouring the internet but Harding found a jeweller in London called Wright and Teague.
"I looked at the website and on one of the pages I found it - there was the exact ring."
Harding emailed the jeweller with the hallmark details - tiny symbols on the inside band - and asked for their help to find the ring's owner.
Two days later, from her home in London, Gretchen McWilliam called the same jeweller to get a replacement quote for a much-loved ring handmade in their studio eight years earlier.
The New Zealand woman and her UK-born husband Gavin were holidaying with family at Lang's beach, north of Auckland, this Christmas when Gavin's precious wedding ring was lost.
A week searching the beach and path to the family bach proved fruitless and the disappointed couple returned home to London empty-handed.
McWilliam was hopeful her husband's ring would be returned, but she eventually called the jeweller for an insurance quote.
"When I spoke to the store, the guy on the phone went quiet. I thought he hadn't heard me so I went through the story all over again and then he put me on hold," McWilliam said.
"I was a bit confused as to what was going on and then he said his head was spinning."
The man explained he'd just got an email from a guy in New Zealand who had found one
of their handmade rings on the beach.
"How on earth Ed had managed to work out where the ring came from just blows my mind," McWilliam said.
McWilliam emailed Harding telling him she was "bursting out of her skin with excitement" that he had found the ring. He replied that he was just as excited to be able to return it.
Since then, the McWilliams and Harding have hatched a plan for the safe return of the ring, which is now with family in New Zealand.
The McWilliams were overwhelmed by Harding's thoughtfulness and were "grateful for good people."
Harding said returning the ring to the couple within a week of finding it had made his six-year-long hobby of prospecting even more rewarding.
"I was just really very happy it was returned to them so quickly." Harding said.