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Niwa scientist stunned by lucky beach find

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 15/05/2017

NIWA scientist Mike Townsend, a diabetic, has had his insulin returned to him - a month, two storms and 130km after he lost it off a boat.

The marine ecologist was doing routine monitoring for Auckland Council on Kaipara Harbour in April when he discovered his waterproof security box had disappeared overboard in choppy conditions.

Inside were his phone, wallet, keys and insulin.

"It was really my life in that box and it was gone," he recalled.

Mr Townsend and his colleagues retraced their trip by GPS, but couldn't find the box.

He headed back to Hamilton to get medication, thinking that was the last he had seen of it.

So it came as a big shock when he got a call from a man who had been walking his dogs on a secluded beach about 15km from Waiuku.

The man, John Sellers, said he had found the box, with Mr Townend's contact details and the items inside, including a still-working phone.

The box had spent a month at sea, survived two large storms, including the tail end of a cyclone, and travelled 130km south past Muriwai, Piha and the Manukau Harbour entrance.

With barnacles attached, it had washed up on the west coast of the Awhitu Peninsula between Hamiltons Gap and Cochranes Gap.

"Very few people live in this area - it's remote and gets more remote the further south you head," Mr Townsend said.

"I'm chuffed. I was very lucky that it was picked up by someone like John and lucky it stayed dry."

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