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!?

11 responses to “Waiting for the Mail

  1. Very informative! We also have post office boxes here you can get at the post office. Creative mailboxes are around too – but not too much in town – a lot of the neighborhoods have regulations on what kind of mailbox you can have. My favorite mailbox is a Swan mailbox we pass on the way to grandma’s house in Michigan 😉

    I think at our post office the only “other thing” you can really do/buy is apply for your passport!

    I enjoyed the pictures and info! Great job. I like the idea of a mailman on a scooter, hehe.

  2. Annie, I was a letter carrier with a 10 mile walking route before I retired. By 11 am, every moringing, I had climed 376 stairs on my route.
    We were required to be able to carry up to 35 pounds in our bag. I loved my job and was in such good shape, then!

    It’s interesting to read about the NA postal system!

  3. Annie! You’re diversifying again. First time I’m aware of a postal system forming a blog topic – I was impressed with the detail you put into it though (lol).

  4. Most of our ‘creative’ mail boxes seen to be in rural areas, but just around hte corner from us is one that has legs off a mannequin to hold it up, and the ‘legs’ get their clothing changed to match the seasons!!


  5. Wow – ten miles and 376 stairs!! I can see that you would get super fit doing that each day. No need for any gym workouts if you are a postie.


  6. LOL — well, I can’t even claim it was an original idea! I stole it off Erika. I think both our blog entries came out of grumbling to each other about why her Postcard was taking so long to get to me. I’m still not sure which postal system we should blame though – US or NZ!!!


  7. Oooh, I like the heeler photo!

    I have lots of old postcards–pre WWI and some older than that. I inherited a collection, and added to it for awhile, but lost interest. It was often what long-dead people wrote on the cards that attracted me more than the cards themselves. I take it that you’re more interested in new cards–and their postmarks, perhaps. I’m in Oregon, USA. If there’s anything you especially want from here, let me know.

  8. Now you certainly have some pretty mailboxes.. Ours are all the same and very boring… Great post ..

    Big Sloppy Kisses
    Gus, Louie and Callie

  9. Hi there snowbrush!

    Thanks for dropping by. The thing that interests me about postcards is the places. I’m never likely to be able to travel the world, so it’s like my small way of seeing the scenic sights of the world and hte wildlife, and interacting with the people.

    Plus I just enjoy finding out random, and often completely irrelevant information – which I do quite frequently when I researching where the postcards have come from!!

    Here’s my ‘profile’ at the Postcrossing website http://www.postcrossing.com/user/Wildfire which tells what kind of postcards I’m interested in, at the moment!!


  10. Hi guys!

    Next time we are travelling I’m going to look out for any really unusual ones – the farmers here really do make their mailbox out of any old thing sometimes!!


  11. That’s really quite interesting stuff. It’s cool to see how other people get their mail.