What is NZ Law regarding valuable finds?

I intend to search on the beaches around Tauranga.

My question is what is the legal position of valuable jewellery such as wedding rings.

  1. Do I have to hand it into the local police?
  2. Can I sell it on TradeMe?
  3. What if someone reconisese it on TradeMe and wants it back?
  4. Who would offer the best value for assessing the value of your find?
    5 Who would buy it?

Letter of the law is that you must hand in any found property - Posting “Is this yours?” on Facebook doesn’t cut it. Failure to hand in to Police can potentially see you done for “Theft by Finding”.

I’ve only had two or three rings claimed from Lost & Found, and they were surface-find (ie recent) fancies with inscriptions.
It’s not always the owners who get them either, sometimes it’s the Insurance Companies if a claim has been paid out.
Plain bands (ie with no names, or unique designs) always come back to me, as do ‘green’ golds (Crusty 9ct), silvers and deep/old finds.

Even when a ring is returned, legally you still don’t own it (Although I have never heard of any issues with onselling in this case, and you have the Police slip to show you have made the appropriate effort) If you tried to sell on TM, and someone can PROVE it’s theirs then you are required to surrender it - Best way would be to resurrender it to the Police and give the ‘claimant’ the Lost Property receipt number - If it’s theirs then the Police will make sure, if not, the person won’t follow up and three months later you get it back.

I had one returned to me as unclaimed, despite having a name and date inside it. Bit of legwork traced it to a lady in Argentina, who luckily blogged about losing it when she was over here on holiday - date was her wedding day.

Some people, probably a majority to be truthful, just pocket them.

Golden (haha) Rule: What goes in the pouch, stays in the pouch - Don’t be tempted to show rings off.
There’s a scam in the US where a hunter shows a ring to pretty girl, the girl then reports it as ‘found, but he won’t give it back’ to Police…and they have a good description of the ring to prove it! Copper turns up and you are forced to hand it over.

Follow your own moral compass, and good hunting!


I’ve handed in wallets full of cash with drivers licence, credit cards, etc to Auckland CBD
Unclaimed/returned, I got the call, was handed back the ENTIRE wallet.
Until I said, “Shouldn’t you keep the drivers licence and credit cards to destroy!”

Unless it is significant value (thousands) I’d;

  • try to find the owner yourself - I’ve done this successfully (save the underfunded-over worked police the time)
  • keep the goodies, hand cards in individually to police.

As for rings, here is a ridiculous story from the archives

Don’t waste your time, smelt it, sell the gems individually on ebay after getting valuation - ensure you are there for valuation & do not let gems out of your sight for a second.
Never trust second hand dealers - they’re little better than white collar criminals.
Cash converters / pawn brokers will only give you 1/4 of it’s actual value.

You wouldn’t go swimming with a $10,000 gold bar in your pocket would you?
If someone is stupid enough to take a massively expensive/centimental item to lark around the beach, then it’s their loss.

If you do find something that is of historical significance though, consider recording the exact location and donating to museum. Sometimes things that are corroded & a bit junky can be of untold value to historians.


That’s not what the car dealer said when I tried to trade in my clapped out Ford Escort :joy:


Well, you can get $500 for a wreck, they’ll even pick it up if you live near a city.
Some scrap dealers are making more profits than others :smiling_imp:

1 Like