Eight years after throwing a bottle containing a message into the Rhine, a German family has been contacted by New Zealanders who say they found the message 18,000km away. But the finder didn't give their address.
A family from the German city of Bonn who threw a message in a bottle into the Rhine river almost a decade ago said Saturday that they had received word that the bottle traveled 18,000 kilometers (11,200 miles) — to New Zealand.
The Gogos family received a letter, signed by Scott, Julia, Lea and Alice Joy of Auckland.
"Dear Sila, Frida, Maja and Jon, we found this message in a bottle and are sending it back from Auckland, New Zealand," the reply read. "It has traveled a long way!"
Search for the bottle's discoverers
Now the family is trying to find the New Zealanders who discovered the bottle. Christian Gogos, the father of the family, posted on Facebook "What a trip for a small bottle!"
"Unfortunately the finder didn't leave contact details," he added.
"Please help us to find Scott, Julia, Lea and Alice Joy from Auckland, we would really like to thank them!"
Shock at discovery, NZ happens to be a dream destination
DW spoke to Julia Gogos, mother of the family, who expressed her shock at the outcome. She said: "We are still totally surprised to have received feedback after all this time. And then of all the places, from New Zealand, our dream destination, to which we have unfortunately not yet been."
Mrs Gogos added details to the scenario that led to the discovery all these years later. "We sent the message in a bottle 7 or 8 years ago. It was a spontaneous action with no hope of hearing anything again."
The Gogos family said the action was a joint venture with the children of another family. "Our children Maja and Silas are 12 and 14 today, our friends children Jon and Frida are 11 and 14 years old."
"At that time I was given a small bottle that reminded me of a message in a bottle from children's books. So we made our way to the Rhine one afternoon and threw it into the river as a little fun activity. To be honest, I was afraid that it would get stuck somewhere in the undergrowth after a short time. I was hoping for a finder in the Netherlands at most. And after a few days, it had disappeared from our minds. I did not expect that we would ever hear about it again."
"And now we have received news from New Zealand after such a long time. What an amazing trip for a small bottle!"
"The children were happy about the news and find it very interesting and exciting. However, our daughter can no longer really remember that we sent the message in a bottle, she was only 4 or 5 years old at the time. But when she realized what a cool story it was, she was of course also very excited."
The family were intrigued by the bottle's path and how it ended up in New Zealand. Mrs Gogos said: "We are already trying to imagine which path it took."
Tinged with sadness
Alas, the family are not optimistic about discovering the route the bottle took. "To do this, we might have to speak to someone who knows the ocean currents. In the end we will probably never find out."
Julia Gogos also lamented the fact that the sender did not add any contact information with the letter. "It is a shame that the finders did not send any contact details. We are searching diligently. We also do not know whether it is a family or a group of friends or children. My husband Christian's Facebook post has been shared a lot."
How ever it ended up so far away and no matter the journey it took, and whether they ever get in touch with the eventual finders, Mrs Gogos was keen to express her gratitude. "We would like to thank the finders. Your message was really great for us."
dpa contributed to this report