GoPro found after five years at sea
A modern version of the message in a bottle has sparked interest around the world.
Wayne and Marilyn Hall found an unusual small plastic box at Thornton Bay near Thames on January 23.
They nearly threw it away. But Wayne discovered a GoPro camera inside the box with an intact memory card showing the camera had been underwater five years.
The last recording was on February 8, 2009.
The couple posted several of the short videos on their Facebook profile, shared on the Hibiscus Coast community group Facebook page by Marilyn's sister Robyn Crocome of Orewa.
The video included shots of the camera owner wakeboarding.
The Halls also contacted GoPro distributors with the camera serial number to try to find the owner.
Robyn says Hibiscus Coast residents proved their detective skills.
"People on the coast say they know everything and everyone," she says.
"It turns out they do. Only 10 hours after I put the post on it was all solved.
"Two people knew the owner as he had lived in Browns Bay.
"He then moved to Mt Maunganui, and over to England where he lives now."
Camera owner Tom Kelly says he was wakeboarding with friends 1km off the Thames coast when he tried to do a jump and face-planted.
"By the time I had pulled my face back into place I realised my nice new GoPro had been swallowed up by sea monsters."
"Never in a million years did I think I would ever see it again, let alone hearing the camera made it back to solid ground after so long under water," he says.
"David Attenborough would be interested in some of that footage surely."
Tom says he feels blessed there are still honest people in the world, and the technology to enable his still working camera's return.
Wayne and Marilyn are sending it to Tom's North Shore friends to forward to him.
Their message to other beach walkers is, "You never know what you are going to find washed up."