Space Teddy has made it back to Earth after a 21km-high space flight which outshone an abortive launch by New Zealand's commercial space company, Rocket Lab.
Rocket Lab aborted its planned launch of a rocket on the Mahia Peninsula two seconds before scheduled takeoff because of the proximity of the International Space Station and deteriorating weather.
But Space Teddy, launched on Monday by eight Year 6 students at Takapuna's Forrest Hill Primary School, reached a height of 21km before falling into a tree on Waiheke Island.
Arbor Bros arborist Harry Hodgetts climbed 12 metres up the spindly taraire tree to rescue the plucky teddy at about 4pm today.
"He was hanging up by his parachute, and also his GPS was tangled in the tree," Hodgetts said. "He didn't seem to be damaged."
Dr Marius van Rijnsoever, a North Shore Hospital doctor whose children Amalia and Lucas attend the school, first helped a group of Year 6 "teddynauts" to launch another teddy into space, attached to a helium-filled weather balloon, last year.
This year a new group of teddynauts equipped Space Teddy with transmitting gear so that they could follow his progress, and van Rijnsoever took two of them, plus his own two children, over to Waiheke today to track down the lost bear.
"We managed to do a little treasure hunt to find him, even though I knew where he was," he said.
As well as successfully rescuing Teddy, residents around Takapuna have emailed saying they have found seven of the 22 paper planes that were programmed to be released, with the school's email address, when Space Teddy soared above 35km.
"It's a really nice, satisfying experience, " van Rijnsoever said. "The space launch didn't go well with the rocket so everyone focused on the teddy."