The Cape Navigator

Seaside Community Newspaper


South African Research Drift Card Washes Up on Remote New Zealand

Michael Hawthorne

Kiwi adventurer’s tale brings back memories of long-lost ocean research

NEW ZEALAND – Richard Osborn, an outdoorsman from New Zealand known to his friends as Oz, has stumbled upon a fascinating piece of South African history while exploring a remote beach on Stewart Island. Amongst washed-up seashells and debris, he found a faded plastic card – a drift card launched as part of a long-ago South African hydrological research project.

The card’s incredible journey across the vast Indian Ocean, spanning over 11,000 kilometres, sparked Oz’s curiosity. He wrote to the address on the card, hoping to learn more about the project and its findings, but sadly never received a reply. His story resurfaces memories of South Africa’s past scientific endeavours and highlights the interconnectedness of our oceans.

“It blows my mind to think how far this little card travelled,” Oz reflects. “It made it through storms, currents, and who knows what else, only to be found on this wild, windswept beach in New Zealand.”

Artistic impression of a Research Drift Card. (Not the actual card.)

Oz’s tale raises questions about the specific research project the card belonged to. While the exact organization remains a mystery, it’s possible that oceanographic institutions like the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) or the South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON) may have been involved in similar studies.

The discovery serves as a reminder of the ambitious scientific projects South Africa once conducted and the vast distances our influence can reach, even through seemingly small actions.

Do you remember any South African drift card projects? If you were involved in oceanographic research or have any information that could help Oz identify the project, please reach out to The Cape Navigator at

If Oz manages to locate the drift card, we’ll provide an update for our readers. It would be fascinating to try and contact the research group, potentially associated with a South African university, and learn more about their findings.

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