You’ve got mail, maybe

A picture perfect rural mail box.
A picture perfect rural mail box.

Does your mail box look like this?

If it doesn’t you are, most likely unintentionally but nevertheless truly, giving our hardworking rural mail delivery driver a helluver time.

It’s a wonder the mail makes it in some dilapidated, unsuitable or ill-sited boxes at all.

As for rubbish day. Whew! How many of us use the mail box post as a convenient leaning post for the teetering rubbish bag? Pity the poor postie who on rubbish day has to negotiate yet another hazard on the run let alone put up with the pong.

It’s testament to the legion of drivers and their dedication that the mail does get through.

A Forum reader has raised the issue of letterbox design and placement after witnessing the rural delivery van on part of its run recently. The contortions of van and man were near acrobatic to get to poorly sited boxes or ones with their openings apparently placed more for the convenience of the receiver rather than the deliverer, she said.

Can you ask Tamahere people to take a second look at their mailboxes and check they are of the right type and are placed well for the rural delivery van driver, she asked.

More on this topic: NZ Post guidelines for rural mail boxes and delivery

Yes! It’s a topic Tamahere Forum has visited before.

More on this topic: Letterbox louts go postal

Return to sender

A few years back Tamahere Forum sacrificed a few hours sleep to go on the RD 3 mail run with then delivery driver Warren Hodges, starting at the sorting centre in Hamilton around 3am.

We hit the road at 6.30am

I’m yawning but Warren is all go – energetically maneuvering the van back and forth across near empty roads, swinging it within paint sheen of letter boxes to lean out his window, open the hatch and place the mail.

Between stops he hardly seems to look where he’s going as he grabs the next recipient’s lot.

His ability to navigate to the next box is uncanny even to him. “Sometimes I just look up and I’m there,” he says. But I see his intense concentration, eyes darting from mail to road to destination. He never fails to look before he pulls out. He’s never had an accident on the run, which threads along and over fast flowing State Highway One.

The biggest challenge is the boxes. Warren’s adapted to their eccentricities and awkward placements which have him inventively driving loop the loops, drive ins instead of drive bys, back ups, stops and leap outs.

I, however, become incensed. Do some boxholders think it’s a game of hide the box, put it in the most screamingly difficult place to access, grow the prickliest plant around and even in it, or want to see how long before it completely disintegrates?

We’re in an area that reeks wealth. Signs for costly security services are on the same gateposts as mailboxes so dilapidated you wonder whether their owners want mail at all or at least secure and dry stuff.

One box, toppled 3 months ago, is still upended. Another, on its dug out post is propped, unreachably high against a fence. One is a plastic bucket laid on its side with a hole cut in the bottom. Many are too small or have tiny slots facing the road but substantial openings to the rear. Too few are regulation front opening boxes.

Boxes teeter on deep ditches or have potholes or piles of earth in front of them making the trip like a cross-country rally. A third of the run has boxes inaccessible from the van’s driver’s side.

Only one box in 900 gets Warren’s highest praise of “that’s a bloody good box that.”

He wonders why people can’t simply drive by their box to collect their mail and see how convenient – or not – it is for the postie.

It’s a logical, patently well overdue idea. At the very least it would be a courtesy to people who work hard in tough conditions to offer us a prized service.

Today, a few years and several van drivers later, according to the Forum reader, not much has changed.

It’s official

NZ Post sets out the requirements for being eligible for rural mail deliver here on its website. Yes, you have to qualify, including, technically at least, having the right sort of mail box.

The NZ Post mail box requirements are:

Your rural mail will be delivered if your mailbox:

  • has a minimum size of 400mm deep x 270mm wide x 270mm high, with a flag fitted to indicate mail is awaiting collection
  • provides access by a front-opening, non-locking hinged door and fitted with a mail slot large enough for large magazines to be placed inside without bending or opening the door. The mail slot should be no less than 250mm x 30mm. Mail should drop out of sight to keep it secure
  • is located to allow easy, all-weather access and positioned so your Rural Post owner-driver can reach it without leaving their vehicle. The best location may not always be by your gate. It‘s important you comply with local bylaws, traffic regulations and phone/power cable requirements. Please discuss your options with your Rural Post owner-driver before constructing your mailbox
  • has the street/road number of your property (if available) clearly printed on the box in numerals at least 25mm high. Local Authorities are progressively allocating numbers to all properties in their area and your property may already have a number allocated. If not, or if you would prefer to use your name, please feature your initials and surname, or company name.

Height and positioning of mail slot

The recommended height of your mailbox mail slot is between 1m and 1.2m from the ground. This allows easy and safe access without the Rural Post owner-driver having to get out of their vehicle.

You can buy a purpose-built rural mailbox from selected retail and hardware outlets.

Do our bit

We may disparage it as snail mail but it’s still an essential of life. Please take a moment to check that your mail box is a goodun and placed appropriately for the delivery people.

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