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Postcrossing Blog

News, updates, and all kinds of goodies and stories from the postal world!

Posts tagged "new-zealand"

Meet Alex (aka Zeby), a very enthusiastic young postcrosser from New Zealand. His mom Marian describes him as a little evangelist who will happily tell everyone he meets about Postcrossing… and he’s doing such a great job that he earned the very special Ambassador badge last year! So of course, we had to have him on the blog for an interview. 😊

Hi Alex! How did you come across Postcrossing? What got you hooked?

My Mum found Postcrossing on the internet one day and thought it looked interesting. She had collected postcards when she was young and she thought I might like to have a new hobby. My brother had started stamp collecting and I wanted to do my own thing, I really like postcards and getting mail, so it was the perfect hobby for me.

Postcrossing has been a great experience so far, it gets even more interesting each day. It gives me the chance to talk to people on the other side of the world. I get to learn about what creatures live in their countries, what their capital city is like and what their lives are like.

I’ve joined in a lot of Round Robins on the Postcrossing Forum, it’s a lot of fun. From the Forum my brother and I have also got penpals our own age — it’s really nice to write cards and letters to other kids.

Do you have any other interesting hobbies?

I’m a Cub Scout. I love earning new badges, last year I earned 12 individual award badges. My twin brother and I got more badges than other Cub in the pack but it was a lot of work to get that many done in the year. Dad joined Cubs as a Leader late last year too and we all went to the Cubs 100 Years Camp in November.

Zeby and his family

My biggest hobby is reading. I love it. I read a lot, over 200 pages every night but Dad turns the light off if it gets too late. My favourite kinds of books are fantasy books. I got a lot of books for Christmas and I go to the library nearly every week.

Show us your mailbox, your mailman/mailwoman, your postoffice or the place where you post or keep your postcards!

My letterbox is a long way away from my house, it’s a big rural letterbox and we don’t get mail every day in our valley. My postie comes in a van and sometimes I am at the letterbox waiting for him. He was very curious about all the mail I was getting so I told him about Postcrossing, he says I’m keeping him in a job with all my Postcrossing mail.

Zeby's mailbox

Here’s me at one of our local postboxes, I normally post my cards here as it’s outside the supermarket.

Zeby's postbox

I have a whole wall of cards on display. There’s one from each country in my collection pinned on the wall and I’ve got string leading to where it’s from in the world.

Zeby's wall of postcards

My world map got too crowded so my uncle gave me a map of Europe.

Zeby's wall of postcards

I swap cards around with my collection boxes and the wall. I have collections of native animals, native costumes, Cold War, volcanoes and space. My brother and I also have a box of Greetings From cards we are collecting. In my room I have my special owl collection on the wall. The house is covered in postcards!

Have you inspired anyone else to join Postcrossing or start collections of their own?

I’ve talked to my gifted education class about Postcrossing. They liked the idea and a lot wanted to join themselves. The teacher liked the idea too because it opens the world to classrooms.

My Scout Pack Master loved my Postcrossing so much she joined. Dad says I talk to everyone I meet about Postcrossing. Everyone who comes in our house gets a tour of my Postcrossing maps!

What is it your favorite part of the Postcrossing process?

I like picking a new person to send a card to and then reading their profiles. I want to know about the people and match a card to them. It’s like a lucky dip, getting a new person. I enjoy sending cards out.

Show and tell us about your favorite received postcard to date, and what makes it special.

I have so many postcards that I love. I don’t have an absolute favourite but so many people have sent me amazing cards. My rarest official card was from Montenegro:

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Someone else sent me an official with my name on the front!

NL-3625135

My favourite rare country was a card from Antarctica, though it didn’t come from Postcrossing. It was sent from a New Zealand scientist I met, she went down to Antarctica to do some field work this summer.

Antarctica
Is there anything that you are passionate about?

Space is a big passion for me. My hero is Neil deGrasse Tyson, he’s an astrophysicist. I love astronomy and one day I’d like my own telescope to look at the stars. All science is amazing.

I love learning, I want to know as much as possible. I like trying to learn languages. I like learning about history and how the world works. I’m lucky that I’m a worldschooler!

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It’s no secret we’re big fans of the behind-the-scenes part of postal delivery (see here, here or here). Russell (aka SonOfBilly) from New Zealand, spotted this love of ours and sent us this video by New Zealand Post:

That put a huge smile on our faces! Samson’s enthusiasm is contagious, and pretty much a mirror of our own delight when we see these videos. Keep them coming! 😊

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Remember the cute kids who serenaded Postcrossing last year with a lovely rendition of Happy Birthday, both in English and Maori?

Awwww… 😍

The little ones come from Koputaroa, a rural area in the North Island of New Zealand. Their Postcrossing account, Kererū, is both the name of their learning centre and the name of a bird native to the islands. The class has been on Postcrossing for 2 years now, and sent over 400 postcards… they’re very enthusiastic! :) We talked to their teachers about their class and Postcrossing.

How did you come across Postcrossing? What got you hooked?

We came across Postcrossing after making connections with kindergartens and other childhood centres around the world. While many who responded to us were in USA, we wanted to communicate with more centres around the world. A Google search turned up Postcrossing and so our exciting journey began. The children’s delight in receiving postcards of different peoples and places around the world kept us hooked.

Do you have any other interesting hobbies?

We have 3 teachers who have different hobbies. Helen is keen to travel the world and later this year is heading over to Europe with her family for a holiday. Sharee loves listening to music and adores One Direction and Ed Sheeran. I (Faye) personally like to read science fiction books and also enjoy being on my computer.

Show us your mailbox, your mailman/mailwoman, your postoffice or the place where you post or keep your postcards!
Foxton mailbox

This is the mailbox in Foxton where all our cards are sent from. My husband considers it a personal job for him to actually put the cards in the box each time!

Foxton mailbox
What is it your favorite part of the Postcrossing process?

The children love visiting the mailbox at the end of the drive to see if the mail van has left anything for them. They also love choosing the cards that gets sent to the receiving participant. A lot of thought goes into choosing just the right one.

Show and tell us about your favorite received postcard to date, and what makes it special.

Where's Wally This is the prize we won for our video contribution to Postcrossing’s 10th birthday. The children absolutely love it and gather around it at reading time each day to see where Wally is. They consider it a challenge to see how fast they can find Wally!

Have you been surprised by any place that you have received a postcard from or sent a postcard to?

We are absolutely thrilled to receive our two cards from the African continent, and hope for many more. The children have loved the many Finnish postcards that we received before Christmas that had Santa on them.

Is there anything that you are passionate about?

We work with children aged between 2–5 years so anything that interests them on a daily basis is what we are passionate about. With Postcrossing, they love receiving cards which show different foods, dress, cultures, buildings and animals.

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Well… it might be a bit late for this, but… HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone! We hope you had a nice holiday season, and are ready for a year filled with postcards! We spent this period dragging our boxes of postcards across Europe, and are now firmly set in the southern tip of the continent, where the sun is warm and the oranges are sweetest. :)

Meanwhile, the Little Mail Carriers, have been doing some traveling of their own… to the other side of the globe! Here they are to tell you all about their adventures in the antipodes with their host Vicki (aka madvix):

Hi everyone! We were excited to be invited to Stewart Island to get away from it all! Stewart island is New Zealand's third biggest island. Captain Cook originally thought it was part of the South Island and so it was named in honour of first officer Stewart on a sealing expedition from Sydney in 1809. He determined that it was actually an island!! It is also known as Rakiura, which translates from the Maori as “Land of the glowing skies”, in honour of the beautiful sunsets and sunrises.

Amazing view of Halfmoon Bay or Oban

We arrived on the island by plane, which is how all the mail comes. They’re quite small planes, carrying a maximum of nine people but the pilot did a brilliant job and the seats have warm and comfy sheepskin covers! We even got to travel up front next to the pilot!

Flying the plane into Stewart Island! Very comfy sheepskin seats, you don't get them with the big airlines.

A van came to the airstrip to pick us up and take us down into Halfmoon Bay or Oban, which is where everyone on the island lives. Although Stewart Island is three times the size of Singapore there are only 381 people living full time here! The first views of the island are lots of native bush and you can hear the birds all through the trees.

Stewart Island is mainly native bush, it is three times the size of Singapore, but with only 381 people! This makes Ana and Paulo the first ever Mail People on Stewart Island! Lets go deliver some postcards!

The Post Office is also the Flight Centre so Vicki was there to pick us up when we landed in her mailbox! There are no posties on Stewart Island, everyone comes down to the Post Office to collect their mail and have a gossip! That means we are officially the first Mail Carriers (little or otherwise) here ever!

We finally made it to start our visit! There is no postman/woman on Stewart Island. All the mail comes via plane to the Post office which is also the Flight Centre and you have to go and pick it up.

We got to sort the mail; up until a couple of months ago all the mail was hand-franked and sent on it’s way. Unfortunately the new-fangled computers can’t read these stamps so that’s not allowed anymore, but you can get a stamp in your passport or on your envelope as long as it’s not near the postage stamps.

It isn't very exciting, but this is where all our mail goes from! All the mail gets bagged up and sent to the Mainland to be delivered and sorted. You can see our handfrank!

We also met Councillor Ford in the Post Office. He is the Island’s MP and also lived next door to us. He approved our Stewart Island passports and they were duly stamped; we belong!

Only a couple of months ago we had to retire our handfranking system as the computers can't read it! Boo! However, the lovely Flight Centre people will still frank your envelope for you, as long as it isn't near the stamps. Stewart Island/Rakiura is also featured on two NZ Post stamps! Well, he's our local MP (and my neighbour) Bruce Ford met the Little Mail Carriers and approved them holding Stewart Island Passports! They can come back anytime!

The Post Office is right on the beach, like most places in Stewart Island, and we could watch all the fishermen coming and going. There aren’t as many now as in earlier years, but fishing is still a very important part of the community. Vicki works in the Fishermen’s Co-operative so we went to work with her for a couple of days. It happened to be crayfish (Spiny Rock Lobster) season while we were there, so we sorted the crayfish into different sizes and put them into holding tanks where they sit for a day before they have to fly to China. What a journey for them! We got to ride on a couple and Ana even got to sit on a beautiful purple/lilac coloured one which is quite rare apparently.

I took the Little Mail Carriers to work with me for a couple of days. They were lucky enough to visit during crayfish season (Spiny Rock Lobster) and caught a ride on this huge one! Most of our crayfish get exported to China. The crayfish Ana is riding is a very pale purple, very unusual. And yes, they are still all alive!

The next day we went down to the fish shed where there was a haul of Blue Cod to be filleted. The cod here is a different species from the endangered cod in the Northern hemisphere, so we didn’t feel bad about seeing them. They were huge! Another Postcrosser, Jojogypsy, owns the cafe on the wharf and she cooked us up some tasty battered and deep fried cod and chips.

Fishing has always been a very important part of the Island. Blue Cod are not related to the endangered cod of the northern hemisphere, but I think they are tastier! These were whoppers! And this is how you'll normally see them when you visit, battered and deep fried! These were prepared in Postcrosser Jojogypsy's cafe, Bird On a Pear.

We had a bit of a scare meeting some of the local bird life. Stewart Island is a great place to see a Kiwi but we were always tucked up in bed nice and early and didn’t see any of those. What we did see though was a lot of the native parrots called Kakas. They’re very cheeky and inquisitive and have learnt that humans mean food. We didn’t feed them though as human food can upset them and make them sick, but I think that might have upset them anyway as one took off with Ana in his beak! Thankfully he put her down not too far away and she was fine although a little shaky!

The kaka are native to New Zealand and very cheeky. Unfortunately Ana isn't in this shot as another parrot had just taken off with her in his beak! Luckily he dropped her and she was unharmed.

Anyone who goes to Stewart Island has to go to the South Sea Hotel. It is the only bar on the island and also has accommodation and a restaurant. It is the hub of the community and if you need to find anyone, you can get an answer there! We bumped into the Island’s third Postcrosser while we were there; farfarfaraway works in the restaurant! We also went into the bar for a coke and got invited into a quiz team for the famous Sunday Night Quiz. And our team, No Eye Deer won!

It was super nice to meet so many postcrossers on this trip! And now let's relax with a coke...They even stayed for the famous quiz night and ended up in the winning team No Eye Deer!

Lots of people when they visit New Zealand pick up paua shell souvenirs and jewelry to take home, but I bet they haven’t seen the creature that lives inside the shell! They are a species of abalone and the beautiful bluey green shells (haliotis iris) can only be found in New Zealand. Unfortunately they are quite hard to find in a lot of places in New Zealand due to people taking too many but they are quite well protected down on the Island (as the local’s call it!). It does make you wonder who thought of eating them first because they don’t look very appetizing!!

Everyone has seen the beautiful paua (abalone) shells that come from NZ, or possibly jewellery made form them. This is what they look like when the animal is still in there! They are very tasty, so much so there are not many left around the coasts of New Zealand, but luckily we guard our waters here and only take what we need.

Although we flew on and off the Island the other way to reach it is by ferry. The journey takes an hour from Bluff and can be very rough sometimes as Fouveaux Strait is very shallow but the catamarans are very stable and the crew all very experienced. We were allowed to sit at the wheel, but not touch anything!

The other way to get to and from the Island is the Ferry. It takes an hour and can be pretty rough sometimes.

The biggest surprise to us was when the monthly Stewart Island News came out and there was a photo of us in it! And they want to hear about our adventures too!

Word got around the little mail carriers were visiting and they even got their photo in the Stewart Island News!

We’ve definitely had a lot of rest and relaxation while we’ve been here; it’s like a different way of life with only one supermarket and a handful of shops and cafes, but we’re ready to go on our next adventure back to the bright city lights!

Wow! Way to start the year, guys! :) And thank you Vicki for taking such good care of the littles ones. On they go…

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Russel, (aka SonOfBilly) joined Postcrossing when the project was barely starting, and hasn’t stopped sending postcards since then… as a result, he is the second user with most postcards sent in New Zealand!

Here is what he had to say to our interview questions:

How did you come across Postcrossing? What got you hooked?

As a young 10 year old boy, an American pen friend sent me a chain letter which promised me 1,000's of postcards if I sent one to the person at the top of the list, put my name at the bottom of the list and sent the chain letter to 5 other people. My Mother said it wouldn’t work and guess what, she was right.

I now travel a lot on business, mainly throughout Asia and in particular China. I have been travelling in China now for 31 years. While travelling I have always sent postcards home to my family and extended family.

Back in 2005, not long after Postcrossing started my ISP sent out a newsletter showing interesting sites and “Postcrossing” was one of them. I immediately joined and have been hooked ever since.

I even try to send postcards while I travel. I also stock up on postcards by buying them in China, Hong Kong and have recently discovered a marvelous bookshop in Taipei called Eslite that has a great selection of postcards from around the world.

Do you have any other interesting hobbies?

Sport plays a dominant part of my lifestyle. I maintain my fitness by walking an hour a day, up to 5 days per week.

Work commitments mean I don’t have a lot of spare time but I always find time to keep in regular contact with my old High School friends with regular dinner evenings. I also watch most of my favourite sports on TV such as Rugby, Rugby League, Soccer (or Football as most of the rest of the world knows it), Motorsport (especially WRC, Formula 1, MotoGP & Superbikes) Tour de France, Olympic Games and Commonwealth Games.

Have been a season ticket holder of the New Zealand Warriors ever since they entered the Australian Rugby League competition back in 1995.

Show us your mailbox, your mailman/mailwoman, your postoffice or the place where you post or keep your postcards!
Luke Our Postie

Luke, our “Postie” who delivers our mail, rain, shine or hail 6 days a week.

Shop assistant at Real Aotearoa

I buy my stamps from the NZ Post shop in the central shopping street of Auckland called Queen Street. The shop is called “Real Aotearoa”. Aotearoa is the maori name for New Zealand and means “Land Of The Long White Cloud”. The photo shows my friendly assistant.

SonOfBilly's mailbox

This is our very basic letter box.

SonOfBilly's postbox

This is where I post most of my postcards, on the way to work most mornings, outside our local BP petrol station.

Show and tell us about your favorite received postcard to date, and what makes it special.
SonOfBilly favourite postcards Canton Guangzhou China

One of my favourite postcards was the very first one I received. It is black and white and shows the streets of Canton in China. Now called Guangzhou, it is the City I would visit the most in China. I enjoy all of the postcards I receive but a couple that stand out were of The Great Wall of China, The Colosseum, the Taichung Jazz Festival, Soccer World Cup 2010 and Finnish Nature. SonOfBilly favourite postcards Finnish Nature Photo + great wallThe Colosseum + Jazz festivalSoccer World Cup, 2010

What is it your favorite part of the Postcrossing process?

The sending means more than the receiving. I like to try and and match up the receivers requests with my closest equivalents. I enjoy getting a big thank you when the postcard is received and knowing that it is really appreciated.

I also enjoy finding out more information about the postcard I have received. I will try and add more information to the postcard, either when it is scanned or within a couple of weeks of having received the card. If you have sent me a postcard, please check the image to see if the information is correct.

Have you been surprised by any place that you have received a postcard from or sent a postcard to?

I sent 2 postcards to Tuvalu. The first one was posted from China and my guess is that perhaps they didn’t realise it was a country, so it never arrived. Located in the Pacific, halfway between Australia and Hawaii they were formerly known as the Ellice Islands. Its population of 10,500 makes it the third-least populous sovereign state in the world, with only Vatican City and Nauru having fewer inhabitants. Because of the low elevation, the islands that make up this nation are threatened by current and future sea level rise.

Is there anything that you are passionate about?

The only issue that I take a real interest in at the moment is the world wide decline in mailing. The drop globally between 2008 to 2010 was 14% with one notable exception being China which continues to experience growth but from a relatively low base.

Mailing is expected to decline a further 43% by 2020.

For example in New Zealand mail volumes declined 6.7% in 2009. Slowed to a 4.9% reduction in 2010 but at the same time 7,200 new addresses were added to the delivery network bringing the total network to 1.9 million addresses. This meant the Post was delivering 20% less mail per address than they did 3 years ago.

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