The wacky world of mailboxes
Other people’s letterboxes are strangely compelling, reporter Anna Loren finds.
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.
Colourful creature: A slightly dangerous puffer fish in Kawakawa Bay.