A Queenstown postie charged over undelivered mail may have hoarded up to 20,000 letters, parcels and postcards, after police discovered thousands more in an Arrowtown storage facility.
Police say that after finding thousands of items of mail at a Queenstown house last week, further investigation led them to a storage business in Arrowtown where more undelivered mail was found.
They had not finished counting the mail, but the final figure was expected to be "in the tens of thousands".
Some of the mail had been opened and they were trying to find out if anything had been taken, said Detective Sergeant Brian Cameron.
The mail had been destined for 900 letterboxes and postboxes in the suburb of Fernhill.
However, police were unable to say when the mail would be delivered to the intended recipients.
Earlier this week a 32-year-old female postie, a contractor to New Zealand Post, was charged with theft after 3000 to 5000 items of mail were allegedly found at her Queenstown home.
She will appear in Queenstown District Court next week.
Her arrest was prompted by about 100 complaints to NZ Post about missing mail.
NZ Post spokesman John Tulloch admitted public faith in the company had been knocked by the incident.
Everyone at NZ Post was "gutted", including the hundreds of posties who walked and cycled the streets each week, he told NZ Newswire.
Mr Tulloch said the complaints started at a low level about a year ago. Just one or two pieces of mail a month were reported undelivered.
"We went through the normal procedures to investigate what was occurring and were unable to uncover anything untoward."
However, about three months ago the number of complaints spiked, leading to NZ Post to look harder at its Fernhill deliveries. The problem was identified fairly quickly once they started surveillance and working with police.
NZ Post was reviewing its systems to try and prevent a repeat of the situation.