Daily Archives: January 11, 2010

Waiting for the Mail

Last week I learnt quite a bit about the US postal system thanks to ErikaJean, so in the interests of cross-cultural relations, here is a little about how the mail system works in New Zealand

Our main mail deliverer is NZPost  (previous called the New Zealand Post Office) – and people still say they are ‘going to the Post Office’  although some do so ‘going to the Post shop’.  Most of our ‘Post shops’  provide a wide range of services – sure they sell stamps and all manner of postal supplies, but you could register your car there, pay all sorts of utilities bills, buy a magazine or a birthday card, register to vote, do your banking and probably a whole bunch of other stuff that I can’t remember at the moment.  

However – NZPost does not have a monopoly, and there are other smaller companies who issue valid stamps and have their own postboxes in some towns.  In the end though –even if you can SEND mail via some other company, NZPost will deliver it to the recipient’s mail box.

When I post my Postcrossing  postcards here are some of the places I could be posting them:

Most of my Postcrossing mail gets kindly posted here by PB at his work.

The one and only Post Office in our small town.

The so-called 'sorting centre.' But actually our mail gets trucked to the city to get sorted now.

My nearest street corner post box.

If I am sending mail to someone in New Zealand  it could get delivered to them by an NZPost person who is walking, cycling, riding a little motor scooter or motor bike, or driving a car or truck.  This would depend on which city or town they lived in, or if it was a rural area.

Typically in a suburban area we all have a mailbox to receive our mail at our gate or the end of our driveway.  If we live in a multistory apartment building or a housing estate of some kind – or there are just several homes up a really long drive way – all the mail boxes will be together in the foyer or at the road end of the driveway/entrance.  The average suburban postie will ride a bicycle around their delivery route, though in a hilly town or city they may walk – particularly if their route includes lots of stairs. This website tell a little bit about the task and hours our posties work:  New Zealand Careers.  The picture below is from that website.

Bicycle postie

 However an urban/suburban postie will not drive a vehicle. In a semi-rural or lifestyle block area with more distance between each mail box the postie might ride a motor scooter or a motor bike. In build-up areas like businesses in town or city centres the postie will also walk and generally push a little trolley or have a mail bag over their shoulder, and may deliver the mail into the hands of the receptionist or similar.  But us regular people have to walk out to our front gate or down our driveway to get our mail out of our mail box.  

In a completely rural area the postie will drive and your mail box must be located in such a way that he or she can get to it without getting out of their vehicle.  There are special rural mailboxes that have a little flag on the side that can be raised and lowered, so if you have out-going mail the postie will know to stop. However your Kiwi farmer is often a creative and ingenious fellow, so rural mail boxes can be made out of almost anything that you can find laying around on a farm – any kind of container or barrel or can will do, so long as it’s watertight and the mail fits in it!!!

Rural delivery van - could also be a large car or a small truck

 Not everyone will be able to have their mail box (regular or creative!) outside their farm gate though, as the posties only go down certain roads. So often in a rural area you will see a collection of mail boxes at a road intersection or at the start of a no exit road.  

Rural mail boxes from davidwallphoto.com

I also just discovered today that rural posties ought to be able to sell you stamps on the spot, and should know all the postal rates so that they can do that. However – I don’t think our urban posties have to be able to do that – well, not that I can find out on-line anyway!!!  And if you live in a really remote area your mail may get delivered in a more unique way. Check out this  article for delivery by boat!

Also, not everyone gets their mail delivered to their home, business or farm. In all of these situations it is possible to get a ‘Post Office box’ at your local post shop or postal agency.  

Post Boxes

These New Zealand Post Office boxes are from a group at Flickr dedicated to different mail boxes!  Check it out: Post, Letter & Mail Boxes

 And as for me, I wait for my postie to cycle past  as I can see the road from my ‘office/craft room’ window, and race outside to check this postbox:

Annie's mail box. Is it your letter or postcard in there today!?