Tasman Sea borrows Eddie's dentures for a fortnight, returns them undamaged
The sea slapped Eddie Royal's teeth out of his mouth and stole them: but two weeks later, 14 kilometres away, it spat them back.
Eddie said he lost his upper teeth on a surfing trip on the Kāpiti Coast, near the Ōtaki River mouth, which feeds into the South Taranaki Bight, on December 23.
"I had just finished and I was coming in, and I laying there on the board, and I must have had my mouth wide open, and a wave hit me side-on and 'doomph'."
Upon realising the wave had swiped his dentures, Eddie and his family spent the next few days searching the shore at high and low tides in case they washed up.
He said having no upper teeth was hard, "especially on Christmas day". He missed out on the likes of a T-bone steak and spare ribs thanks to his unexpected soft-food diet.
His denture specialist was away on holiday for weeks, so Eddie faced a long, mostly-toothless holiday season till his niece's partner decided to share his plight on Facebook.
Eddie's nephew Phillip Cowan said he'd had luck in the past finding lost items on Facebook, so gave his uncle's dentures a go.
On Christmas day, Cowan posted a plea, in a local group, for the community to keep an eye out for any dentures that might have washed up.
All was quiet till the new year, when on January 3, Wellington woman Janet Carson went for a swim with her family at Waikanae Beach, 14km to the south.
It was a hot night with a low tide, she said, and it was when they came back to shore near the Waimea Rd entrance they found a set of teeth sitting in the sand.
"We had a bit of a laugh then I asked my son to take them up to the boat club, and I put a notice on the Kāpiti buy and sell [Facebook] group to see if somebody had lost them."
She said the connection was made immediately via the district's Facebook groups. By that same night, Cowan was in touch with her about the potential discovery of his uncle's teeth.
Carson said she thought the teeth belonged to someone swimming at Waikanae Beach, not someone surfing in a different town almost two weeks earlier.
"The other funny thing was there were people interested in the item if the owner wasn't found. I don't know what they planned to do with it...I guess it would have been a halloween prank or something."
On Thursday, Eddie headed to the Waikanae Boating Club to try on the teeth he had seen in Carson's photographs.
"I knew they were mine as soon as I saw them ... anyhow, what's the odds of someone else's false teeth washing up?"
At the clubroom he popped them straight in and said "yeah, bloody beauty" with a full set of teeth for the first time in 12 days.
"The girl behind the bar was laughing her head off. I was just pleased to get them back."
He said the plate was a little loose after tumbling around in what had been big summer tides for 12 days, but was otherwise unharmed.
The journey and return had been "amazing", like finding a needle in a haystack, and he had dropped wine and chocolates to Carson for her help.
Eddie said he would take out his teeth before surfing from now on.