Postcodes in New Zealand consist of four digits, the first two of which specify the area, the third the type of delivery (street, PO Box, Private Bag, or Rural delivery), and the last the specific lobby, RD (rural delivery) number, or suburb. The present postcode system was introduced in New Zealand in June 2006, which, unlike the previous system, applies to all items of mail with effect from June 2008. In October 2008, New Zealand Post launched a 'remember your postcode' campaign, offering a $10,000 prize for remembering a postcode.[1]

This replaced a previous system, introduced in 1977, in which New Zealand Post did not require individual items of mail to include the postcode in the address. Optical character recognition (OCR) enabled automated sorting machines to scan entire addresses, rather than just postcodes, as was the case with older machines. This was very similar to the case in Ireland.[2] OCR technology was introduced in 1992; when the first of seven OCR machines were installed in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch Mail Centres, most mail was sorted manually.[3]


There are 1,856 postcodes, each of which may serve up to 10,000 individual locations. Postcodes are generally allocated north to south.


In cities and large towns, the last two digits indicate one of the four modes of delivery, as illustrated by addresses in Palmerston North:

43 Vogel Street
Palmerston North 4414
PO Box 400
Palmerston North Central
Palmerston North 4440
Private Bag 11222
Manawatu Mail Centre
Palmerston North 4442
Railway Road
RD 10
Palmerston North 4470

Previous system

Although postcodes were first introduced in New Zealand in 1977,[4] these were used entirely for pre-sorting large volumes of mail in bulk,[5][6] similar to the Mailsort system used by Royal Mail in the United Kingdom. Consequently, postcodes were not usually seen in addresses:

New Zealand Post
Private Bag 39990
Wellington Mail Centre
Lower Hutt

Under the old system, Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch were divided into postal zones, which were incorporated into the postcode system for use in bulk mailings. For example, for the former Wellington 4:

Flat 2
173 Park Road
Wellington 6004

In cities and large towns, the last two digits indicated the mode of delivery, as illustrated by addresses in Palmerston North:

Street address:

43 Vogel Street
Palmerston North 5301

Post Office Box address:

P O Box 4000
Palmerston North 5315

Private Bag address

Private Bag 11222
Palmerston North 5320

Rural Delivery address

Railway Road
R D 10
Palmerston North 5321

NB: Prior to the changeover, New Zealand Post also required that a space be inserted between the letters 'P' and 'O' in 'PO Box' or 'R' and 'D' in 'RD'.[citation needed]

Māori names

New Zealand Post recognises Māori names for cities and towns in New Zealand; for example, the Māori Language Commission's address is:

Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori
Pouaka Poutāpeta 411
Te Whanganui a Tara 6140

In English, this translates as:

Māori Language Commission
PO Box 411
Wellington 6140

In spite of the considerable difference between the two languages, there was no need to add the postcode under the old system, which in this case would have been 6015.


Mail to members of the New Zealand Parliament is delivered free of charge for individuals (organisations must pay regular rates). The cost is deducted from the Member's budget.

Rt Hon Christopher Luxon
Prime Minister
Private Bag 18888
Parliament Buildings
Wellington 6160

Other Freepost mail includes a unique number as well as the PO Box or Private Bag number:

Freepost 112002
PO Box 913
Dunedin 9054

Third-party registered postal operators

Until recently NZ Post has had the majority of influence on Private Box rentals. But now DX Mail and Private Box provide an alternative solution for people who need a remote box address. Along with the new competitors in the marketplace NZ Post may find it difficult to keep up with the new addressing system, which is why they have set a standard for addressing mail.

See also


  1. ^ NZ Post launches `remember your postcode` campaign NZPA, 10 October 2008
  2. ^ "An Post is against codes plan". Raidió Teilifís Éireann. 23 May 2005. Retrieved 17 April 2010.
  3. ^ History of New Zealand Post, New Zealand Post
  4. ^ Story: Mail and couriers Page 3 – Mail in the 20th century
  5. ^ Post Code Finder, New Zealand Post website, 13 June 1998
  6. ^ New Zealand Post reviewing postcode system, Post & Parcel, Wednesday, 4 August 2004