Timaru fishermen praised after handing in NZ$5k cash found floating on roadside



Three Timaru fishermen have been praised by police after handing in NZ$5000 found scattered near Lake Pukaki. Three Timaru fishermen who handed in NZ$5000 worth of foreign currency floating around their vehicle on a Lake Pukaki road say they were simply doing what all Kiwis would. 

Murray Macaulay, Steve Begg and Fletcher Begg, 11, were travelling past Lake Pukaki on an angling trip to the Twizel canals on Monday when they spotted something dark lying in the middle of State Highway 8. "Just as I saw it a car drove over it and the whole thing just exploded, and we were just like, holy s..., that's money," Steve Begg said.


The three fishermen gathered up fistfuls of US dollars lying on State Highway 8. Begg said they did a quick u-turn, parked their Toyota Hilux ute and started picking up "fistfuls of money" as well as an oversized wallet, cards and an Argentinian passport belonging to Tomas Arce. "There were cars going past so we were ducking in and out of the traffic when we could.  "Once we could link a face to the money we're just thinking, this poor bastard, imagine what he's going through if he's lost all of this."

Fletcher Begg, 11, left, Steve Begg and Murray Macaulay have been thanked by an Argentinian tourist after handing his $5000NZD worth of foreign money dropped on near Lake Pukaki. Begg said they loaded the money, a combination of US dollars and Argentinian pesos, which was spread out over an 80 metre area of the road, into the footwell of their ute.

As they sat there wondering where to take it Begg spotted red and blue flashing lights from a police-organised driver reviver at the Pukaki information centre carpark about 200m down the road. The three fishermen pulled up slightly sheepishly, money up to their ankles, explaining what had happened.

"It took the police there a while to figure out what to do with it," Begg said. "The whole time we were just thinking man, imagine if we were in a foreign country and that had happened to us.

"We just did what we had to do and hopefully it makes New Zealand look like the good place that it is."

Constable Ben Grant, of Timaru, said police had made contact with the son of Arce, who was on a family holiday through New Zealand, late on Tuesday afternoon. He was on the Interislander ferry to Wellington at the time of the call, Grant said.

The Arces were now driving to Auckland to collect their valuables, which were couriered up by Timaru police on Tuesday night.

It was thought Arce had left the wallet on the roof of the car he was travelling in when it stopped at a Lake Pukaki viewing point. Macaulay said he had flicked through Facebook and found the man's son, also called Tomas.

He messaged him and Arce's son responded, after he had talked to police, thanking them profusely and suggesting they meet for a celebratory barbecue.

"They are over the moon, they can't believe that someone would just hand the money in," Macaulay said. "He said in Argentina this just does not happen.

"They're a bit far away for a barbecue now but that's ok." Via Facebook, Arce's son said his father was going to send a letter of thanks and a "big present" to the men who had handed in his valuables.


"In my country is not usual to find people like this. We are very thankful," he said.