An Auckland woman is upset after a birthday card from an old friend arrived seven months after it was sent - and several months after her friend unexpectedly died.

Cathy Fraser began looking out for the card on her birthday in April last year, after getting a call from her friend Keren asking if she had received it.

Keren sent the letter by New Zealand Post from her home in Hawkes Bay back in March - leaving plenty of time for it to arrive.

But Fraser's birthday passed, and nothing from Keren arrived in her mailbox.

Advertisement

Midway through the year Keren was hospitalised after a heart attack.

"She came out, went home, and then she died a few weeks later, at the end of August," Fraser said

The death was "totally unexpected", as Keren was just 61 at the time.

On November 3 - more than seven months after it was sent - the card turned up.

Reading the sender name and address on the back of the envelope gave Fraser a shock.

"Then I remembered; this is the card she rang me about," she said.

The envelope containing Fraser's birthday card had one of Sustainable New Zealand's 'Grow Your Own' stamps on it, with a little pouch of basil seeds attached.

Otherwise, Fraser said there was nothing remarkable about the card.

Advertisement

It had a black line slashed across the envelope, but Fraser said it was not any different from those she'd seen on other letters she'd received.

"I was furious about getting it, and not being able to say to her, 'I got your card'."

The Devonport local said getting the letter made her upset "all over again" about her friend's passing.

"She'd died not long ago, at the end of August," she said.

Fraser's mother also died at the end of November - which she said added to her state of distress.

A spokeswoman for NZ Post called the incident "regrettable" - particularly given the circumstances.

"We sincerely apologise for the upset this has caused," she said.

They said it was difficult to comment on what might have occurred, as standard mail had no tracking capabilities.

It was "very unusual" for a mail item to have been delayed for such a long period of time, and the spokeswoman said a majority of mail was delivered within the delivery target of one to three working days.

Fraser and Keren had been friends for more than two decades - they met through another friend at teachers college in the 80s.

While Keren had lived in Waipukurau, they had kept in touch via cards and over the phone.

A couple of days after finally receiving the card, Fraser penned a letter to NZ Post's chief executive.

"I said to him, 'what I want to know is what happened to this envelope and its contents in the 7 months it's taken to reach me'.

"I said I found the incident upsetting and appalling, and I want an explanation."

She hadn't yet received a response.

But when she saw an article in the paper about NZ Post sending 'test' letters to punters, which served no purpose for the reader, Fraser was both amused and annoyed.

"I thought, 'what a waste of money' - they could use some real feedback."

NZ Post also apologised for the company's lack of response to Fraser, which they've attributed to an "internal miscommunication". A response has been sent since the Weekend Herald's inquiry.