The wacky world of mail­boxes

Other peo­ple’s let­ter­boxes are strangely com­pelling, re­porter Anna Loren finds.

Central Leader - - NEWS -

There’s some­thing about an un­usual mail­box. The best ones stick with you.

When I was grow­ing up I took rid­ing lessons in the school hol­i­days at a lo­cal eques­trian park.

The mail­box was a minia­ture ver­sion of the sta­ble – white walls, blue-grey roof, trot­ting horse painted above the door.

When I think about those hol­i­days, 20 years later, that’s what I re­mem­ber: The fine dust of the rid­ing arena, the smell of sad­dle soap and that mail­box.

Auck­land’s quirki­est mail­boxes are mostly found in the far-flung reaches of the re­gion, the places where the ra­dio re­cep­tion drops out and you have to stand in the ditch to take a photo be­cause there’s no foot­path.

They can also be found in groups. Maybe it’s a case of keep­ing up with the Jone­ses or maybe cer­tain sub­urbs just at­tract sim­i­lar types of peo­ple, but where there’s a wooden cat wait­ing for your let­ter, you’ll prob­a­bly find a bum­ble­bee or an old bar­rel just down the road.

A mail­box usu­ally tells you some­thing about the peo­ple who own it and the things they hold dear.

You can prob­a­bly as­sume, for ex­am­ple, that some­one with a plas­tic trout for a mail­box also has a healthy col­lec­tion of rods and reels.

The mail­boxes with lop­sided num­bers and pint-sized hand­prints are my favourites. They say: A child lives here and they are loved.

Deep in Taranaki’s Awakino Gorge is a mail­box shaped and painted like a gi­ant straw­berry.

Af­ter my grand­mother was di­ag­nosed with can­cer, I got to know that mail­box well.

My sis­ter and I would use it as a yard­stick on our end­less week­end drives be­tween Auck­land and New Ply­mouth, where my grand­mother had lived all her life.

Once we’d passed the straw­berry, we knew we only had an hour left to go.

The day of my grand­mother’s fu­neral was heavy with cloud and as we drove back home, the heav­ens opened.

We didn’t talk but as we came through the gorge we both looked for that straw­berry: A rosy spot of colour on an oth­er­wise black day.

Free Willy: This orca was spot­ted not far from the sea on the Whanga­paraoa Penin­sula. Let­ter head: A Lego man keeps an eye out for mail in Kawakawa Bay.

Farm­yard friends: A dog, duck and horse can all be found on the same stretch of road in Ness Val­ley.

De­liv­ery buoy: A nau­ti­cal mail­box near the beach in Marae­tai.

Pho­tos: ANNA LOREN

Colour­ful crea­ture: A slightly danger­ous puffer fish in Kawakawa Bay.

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