"See you in the sunshine" were Cameron Millar's last recorded words that his parents treasure after he went missing in Wellington harbour after a kayaking trip last year.
Nineteen year old Mr Millar had been kayaking with a friend between Ward Island and Eastbourne when he was tipped out of his kayak and drowned on August 10.
A three day search failed to find him. He had not been wearing a lifejacket.
At the Wellington coroner's inquest in Millar's death his father Ross Millar said it was astounding that someone on the Eastbourne ferry managed to spot his backpack floating out to sea and retrieved it.
Inside was a digital camera that had survived complete with photos Cameron Millar had taken on Ward Island and a little video clip that included the words "see you in the sunshine''.
His father said they were especially precious to Cameron's mother Joanne and himself.
Cameron Millar and Stephanie Simon had taken the two ocean kayaks out for the day, intending to go to Ward Island and back. It had been calm and fine when they left and a little rougher as they returned.
She said on the way back she fell out. Mr Millar turned back to her and a wave tipped him out of the kayak.
She said he was "freaking out and panicking,'' holding up his hand to tell her where he was and yelling.
She said she saw him go under a number of times and finally she had to make a decision to keep looking for him or go back to shore.
Ms Simon told Wellington coroner Ian Smith there were life jackets to go with the kayaks but on the morning of the trip they could not find them so were not wearing them.
Search and Rescue acting Sergeant Anthony Harmer said the search was joined by the Navy who used underwater sonar but no results were detected and the search called off three days later.
He said it was believed Mr Millar drowned and it may have been prevented if he had been wearing a life jacket
Mr Smith said hindsight was wonderful but life jackets were a necessity. He reserved his decision.
- The Dominion Post