A Rotorua family are "absolutely devastated" ashes of their relative have gone missing in the mail.
Sending human ashes in the mail is "strictly prohibited" according to NZ Post, however, it told the Rotorua Daily Post it was investigating the incident.
Sharon Johnson died unexpectedly at home at the age of 66 in early September 2019.
A funeral was held for Johnson in her hometown Picton, but most relatives in Rotorua couldn't attend the service.
To help bring about closure, family in Picton decided to post a portion of Johnson's ashes and a flower from the funeral to Rotorua.
But on Monday, Johnson's niece, who asked not to be named, was notified by New Zealand Post that the parcel had been delivered to an address by a Queenstown courier driver.
The niece said her Rotorua address on the tracked parcel was printed clearly. It also included sender details.
The missing parcel had upset Johnson's sisters, the niece said.
"How does a parcel destined for the North Island go South and then go into a courier van? It is not on," she said. "It is just ridiculous this has happened."
"My mum and aunty up here and obviously her daughter, granddaughter and husband are just absolutely devastated. I am angry.
"My mum and aunty are waiting for the ashes to do a proper send-off at this end, and no one knows where they are."
The niece said the pair continued to grieve the death of their "funny, amazing" older sister.
They had planned to place the ashes at the Napier Cemetery, alongside their mum.
"The grieving for them has been very hard because they were so close. And they didn't have anywhere to go to talk to her," she said.
"It was very hard on them to go through the passing, let alone the fact that she is now lost."
The niece described Johnson as a "hard case" who was loved by all.
"She was such a hard case lady. My mother was the laid back one, and then aunty Sharon she was the complete opposite. She swore worse than a sailor. She said it like it was.
"Such a funny, absolutely amazing lady. Everyone just loved her."
The family said they were also trying to see the "funny side" of the disappearance.
"Going to Queenstown is a very aunty Sharon thing to do. She was naughty, we are sort of seeing the funny side. "
However, above all else, they want the ashes found.
"First and foremost we want to have her ashes up here. Or even back to the sender.
"We have had a lot of people in Queenstown offer to go and pick them up if they go back to the depot. We just want them found."
NZ Post chief operating officer Brendon Main apologised for any frustration caused.
In a statement, Main said the service had contacted the customer and had launched an investigation.
"We appreciate the sensitivity of this matter and apologise for any frustration caused.
"We do our best to make it easy for customers to find out what cannot be sent through our network and urge customers to check our prohibited items list on our website, in-store, and in our Postal Users' Guide."
He reiterated sending human ashes through the post, or by courier, was strictly prohibited.
But the niece said they were unaware of this restriction. "If we had known it was prohibited, we probably wouldn't have sent it."
Richard Fullard, of Osbornes Funeral Directors in Rotorua, described this type of situation as "harrowing" for the family.
He said they didn't often get requests to repatriate ashes domestically. More commonly families would transport the ashes themselves.
"Families often travel with cremated remains of a loved one, as you can take these as carry-on, on domestic flights with the appropriate documents.
He said funeral home to funeral home repatriation of cremated remains was more common.
"As most courier firms require a physical delivery address and signature on completion.
"We sincerely hope the family have a positive outcome from what can only be a harrowing experience for them."