The shifting sands of Anaura Bay, north of Gisborne, have unearthed a rare piece of maritime history - a bronze nail from a historic shipwreck similar to that of a gold-laden ship which foundered at the Auckland Islands in 1866.
The nail is believed to be up to 200 years old but the identity of the uncovered wreck remains a mystery.
Anaura Bay resident Tony Ensor made the find several years ago but it has only been assessed by maritime officials in Wellington this week.
He said he noticed something scraping the bottom of his fishing boat about a metre from shore and waited for a particularly low tide to investigate.
He discovered a piece of wood protruding from the seabed and unearthed three pieces of battered wood with five bronze nails attached.
"Digging was bloody hard yakka, but once we found one nail we were intrigued and kept digging till the tide stopped us. It was not till we sat on the beach and looked at the hunks of wood [that we] saw wooden plugs had been hammered into them."