Final calls for rural mailman after 1.6 million km

Retiring rural delivery contractor Kelvin Lyon and his wife and fellow RD contractor, Bev.  Photo...
Retiring rural delivery contractor Kelvin Lyon and his wife and fellow RD contractor, Bev. Photo by Bill Campbell.
After 37 years and an estimated 1.6 million km, Kelvin Lyon has retired from his East Otago rural delivery contract.

It has been a career that has taken him over most of the rural roads around Waitati, Purakaunui, Long Beach and Aramoana. During his career he has also delivered to Waikouaiti RD1 and RD2 addresses.

When Mr Lyon began rural delivery, postage on a letter was 5c. It is now 60c and in the past year letter volumes have dropped sharply, but there there have been increases in second-class mail delivery and a considerable growth in parcels delivery, because of more people buying on the internet and having the parcels posted.

At one point, Mr Lyon was delivering to Waikouaiti RD2 addresses, from Flag Swamp just south of Palmerston through to Port Chalmers RD1, including Aramoana.

This meant a 3.30am start but he seldom finished before 6pm.

His wife, Bev, took on the Waikouaiti RD1 and RD2 deliveries to help reduce the load on her husband and he also employed a relief driver from time to time.

When he started in 1974, his run on five days a week was 160km and 120km on Saturdays. When he finished last week his run was 185km six days a week.

The runs were increased 40km a day when he was doing the Waikouaiti RD1 and RD2 runs.

Postal items were not the only things Mr Lyon delivered. For a time, he also delivered milk to his customers around Waitati.

He recalled that one elderly lady used to ask him to bring an ice cream to her, and when he started his run in 1974 he said large quantities of groceries were delivered from the Waitati store each Thursday.

Although Mr Lyon enjoyed quick chats to his rural delivery box holders, the pressure of time meant that he had to keep moving.

There were embarrassing moments too, such as when mail deliveries around the beach-side communities required a signature and, occasionally, a householder was found sunbathing naked.

The number of box holders has increased steadily over the years to 500.

Mr Lyon has had a 37-year rural delivery career free from major accidents, bar the occasional dent.

However, the days of "the mail must get through" were over. Occupational Safety and Health regulations now in force mean delivery contractors cannot travel on any roads which have been closed without affecting their vehicle insurance, Mr Lyon said.

Mrs Lyon was continuing as rural delivery contractor for Waikouaiti and Mr Lyon said he would be helping from time to time.


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