A beach cleanup in Tongaporutu on Saturday proved unsuccessful in the best possible way - there was no rubbish to be picked up.
And 83-year-old Willie Morton, who had been coming to the beach since 1955, said he'd never seen it so clean.
"This is the first time I have ever been here and there's been no rubbish to pick up," he said.
Mr Morton moved to New Zealand from Kilmarnock, Scotland, in the 1950s and married his wife Adrian, whose family had built the Tongaporutu bach they still stay in every Christmas and new year.
"My wife has been coming here for 70 or 80 years," he said.
This year Mr Morton, who now lives at a retirement village in Havelock North, had a full bach, with his wife, their daughter and her husband, and their three children staying.
His son-in-law and grandson helped him scour the black sand around the rivermouth for any rubbish.
The Tongaporutu beach cleanup was organised by locals and bach owners as part of a series of summer events, which had been going for about 17 years, said another unsuccessful rubbish collector Gillian Hurley-Gordon.
"We all just do it as a community," she said.
About 10 people were scattered across the beach searching for litter.
Among them were tourists, dog walkers and people heading home after Christmas.
Other activities on the Tongaporutu summer events calendar included a children's fishing competition, a bonfire and fireworks, water skiing and a "geological ramble" with geologist Alex McAlpine.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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