A Northland mother and son were shocked to receive a letter from a German woman who had found their message in a bottle in Spain, eight years after it was launched from Whangarei.
Jana Joy "flung" a glass wine bottle containing a message written by her then seven year old son Julien into the Whangarei Harbour from the end of Manganese Point in Tamaterau in early 2010.
Then last month, the Joys received a letter in the mail from a woman called Luisa in Germany.
"Last summer I spent my vacation with my family near Bilbao [in Spain], in the little village Mundaka at the Atlantic ocean coast," her letter reads.
"On a walk at the beach my mom found your message in a bottle covered with sand and seaweed. We opened it and decided to send you a message."
Mrs Joy said she was "flabbergasted" to receive the letter. Luisa hadn't dated the letter, but the post mark on the stamp was for early February in Germany, and it arrived at the Joys on February 21.
"I never thought it [the bottle] would make it past Ruakaka, to be honest."
A direct line from Whangarei to Manduka is just over 19,000kms, how far the bottle really travelled, will never be known.
Mrs Joy can't remember exactly what the message in the bottle said, but recalled she told Julien, now 15, to write his name, address, and a bit about their family and ask for whoever found the message to write back.
Mrs Joy said she asked her husband whether a cork or a screw lid would be the best option for the bottle - he told her a screw lid would be better at keeping the bottle air tight but it wouldn't last a long time in the ocean.
"He turned out not to be right about that."
The letter was inside a ziplock bag inside the clear bottle.
In her letter in reply, Luisa said she is studying in Hamburg, but her family are from Black Forest, in the south of Germany.
She said her oldest sister is a Navy officer who works on a ship, and Luisa asked her to release the bottle again in the North Sea between France and England.
"I hope that your message will be transported with the gulf stream maybe up to Africa or maybe even up to South America."
Mrs Joy said she had made contact with Luisa over Facebook, where she learned Luisa had put Julien's message back in the bottle, along with a message from her own family.
"She wrote where and when she found my son's letter and where and when they put it back in the water," Mrs Joy said.