A Northland ring finder has done it again, this time reuniting a Whangarei man with the ring lost at Ruakaka Beach.

Kepa Earles, a youth worker at Te Hau Awhiowhio O Otangarei Trust, was at the beach on January 11 with a colleague and two youths.

While in the water swimming, his wedding ring slipped off.

"I usually take my rings off but I didn't that day, for some reason."


The wedding ring has special significance as it was one of two he had made from his mother's jewellery when she died in 2016.

"This one's really special because I only got married last year," he said.

After losing the ring around 1.30pm, Mr Earles borrowed snorkel gear and spent all afternoon looking for it.

"When I was swimming around all I was thinking about was my mum."

His wife picked him up from the beach at about 5pm and he went to hire a metal detector from Cowley's Hire in Ruakaka.

He headed back to Whangarei where he picked up a friend and three sons, borrowed another metal detector and went back to the beach at 7pm.

They scoured the area with torches until midnight.

"I didn't want to give up," Mr Earles said.


He broke down the next morning.

"I was hurting, I was really emotional because I was scared I wasn't going to get it back."

His wife Meredith put a post on the Whangarei: Love it Here Facebook page where Bay of Islands metal detector operator Pete McGhee, who belongs to a website called The Ring Finders, spotted it.

After some indecision, Mr Earles arranged to meet Mr McGhee at Ruakaka Beach on January 14, three days after the ring was lost.

"He had it narrowed down to about 20m of beach. It gave me a window to work in," Mr McGhee said.

He was confident he would find the ring because of the good start point and the fact the waves had been "kind" since the ring was lost.


Mr McGhee used a metal detector specialised for water.

"I spent about an hour and a half, chest and neck deep, progressively working towards the shore and I picked it up in the shallows."

He said the ring was buried about 25cm under sand.

When Mr Earles saw Mr McGhee holding the ring he thought, "Nah, it can't be".

"I went over to get it and I grabbed it and I was swearing, to be honest. I was so happy, I was so lit up."

He said without Mr McGhee he wouldn't have found the ring but he is also grateful to his wife for putting the post up, or else the opportunity would never have happened.


"To find it and have it back - it means more now."

"It's better than Lotto. Now I can hand it down to one of my children."

Mr McGhee said the reaction he gets when he reunites a ring with its owner is the best part, and Mr Earles was "absolutely stoked".

Last year Mr McGhee found a ring while searching for another one on Matauri Bay. After three months in police lost property it was returned to him, but he thought the ring had enough identifying features to track someone down.

After some internet sleuthing, he found the owner who lives in Chile and had lost it on holiday in New Zealand in 2012. That ring is currently on its way home.