I am pre-planning my funeral, how do I make sure I get what I want?

The easiest way is to print out our  Certificate of wishes and keep it with your closest family. You can use it to specify more than just the casket you want – consider music, flowers (or not), celebrant, location of ceremony – what ever you like (it’s your funeral!).


Where can I buy Return to Sender caskets in New Zealand?

We supply to all New Zealand funeral directors. For those who don’t carry stock we freight overnight (week days) to North Island locations. We also store popular models in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch for urgent dispatch.

How much is a casket?

Return to Sender caskets generally retail between $800 and $3,500 depending on model and the funeral company you choose.

Feel free to contact us for advice about choosing a funeral director and or an indicative price for a particular casket.

If you haven’t chosen a funeral director don’t hesitate to phone a few and compare prices and services.

What are the dimensions of the caskets?

Return to Sender caskets are generous in size and tend to fit 95% of the population.  Some casket are available in oversized. Please contact us for more details.

Casket Dimensions


How can using rimu be sustainable?

Rimu for the Archetype comes from  sustainably managed native forests. A small number of trees are harvested, ensuring that the rate at which the trees are removed is geared to the forest’s capacity to replace them. Natures balance in the forest is maintained by a number of programmes including:

Nurturing the eco-system – The forest ecosystem is mapped and a plan generated to enhance regeneration and all round health. This plan manages flora, fauna, waterways, pest control (Possums eat 24,000 tonnes of forest vegetation per day in NZ) and tree health.

Natural Regeneration – This is helped by gathering some seeds and propagating them in a nursery before replanting in the areas from which their seeds originated. During harvest, the forests are studied to ensure trees are felled from areas that will benefit from increased light and water penetration (through the canopy). A variety of ages of tree are taken to ensure nature’s balance is maintained. All trees are tagged and traced for forest and yield management.

We acknowledge that the world has needs greater than those that can be provided by carefully managed natural forests but plantation forests such as pine do not support biodiversity and can have negative effects on the soil when harvested. Proceeds from rimu sales contribute to the maintenance of our native forests as illustrated above – we feel this is important and will continue to support it.

How do I know a Solid Pine casket is better for the environment than a MDF one?

Return to Sender has, thanks to 50% funding from the Callaghan Foundation undertaken the world’s first (as far as know) scientific Life Cycle Assessment of caskets. To give you comfort that you know you are choosing a casket that is in fact better for the environment.

An objective and scientific Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)[1] of Return to Sender caskets, comparing their environmental impact with MDF caskets has been undertaken[2] and the results are clear:

Return to Sender caskets have a lower carbon footprint and use less fossil fuels than the MDF equivalent.

Made with the environment in mind from day one, Return to Sender solid pine caskets are shown by the Assessment to be better for our environment across the following key measures that are typically included in an LCA:

  • Carbon footprint
  • Use of fossil fuel
  • Acidifying gases like sulphur dioxide (acidification)
  • Emissions that cause algae bloom (eutophication)

Similarly, Return to Sender urns, made in NZ from pine, are better for the environment than plastic urns across all the measures included within the study and our direct cremation plywood caskets have a smaller climate impact and use less fossil fuel than the MDF equivalent.

Return to Sender is now using the insights from the Assessment to make caskets that are even better for the environment we all share.

What the Life Cycle Assessment shows

Return to Sender solid pine funeral caskets are better for our environment across key measures typically included in most LCA studies:

Better for our climate

LCA circle

  • During creation, transport and burial or cremation, Return to Sender caskets contribute less to global warming compared to MDF caskets.
  • When used in cremation, an MDF casket has almost three times the Global Warming Potential of a Return to Sender pine casket.
  • In burial, the carbon dioxide from caskets is released slowly into the soil, where it stays. This means buried caskets have a positive impact on our climate, compared to cremation, which releases carbon dioxide into the air. Return to Sender pine caskets are two and a half times more helpful for the climate, when buried, than MDF caskets, with a Global Warming Potential of -36kg CO2 equivalent compared to -14kg for MDF.

Use less fossil fuel
Making each MDF casket uses 280MJ of oil, coal or gas, 47% more fossil fuel than the 190MJ used for each Return to Sender pine casket.
Create less pollution
Every Return to Sender pine casket creates well under half the air pollution from gases like Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and Carbon Monoxide of an MDF casket and a third less pollution from acidifying gases like sulphur dioxide.

Return to Sender plywood caskets create more pollution than the MDF equivalent when the plywood is imported, but have a smaller carbon footprint and use less fossil fuel than MDF.

Return to Sender urns, made in NZ from pine, are also better for the climate, use less fossil fuel and create less pollution than plastic urns.

[1] LCA is a tool for a comprehensive assessment of the environment aspects of a product through all stages of its life cycle, taking all materials, transports and processing steps into account.
[2] The Life Cycle Assessment was conducted by environmental impact experts ‘thinkstep’ for Return to Sender and has been critically reviewed by an independent expert panel in line with ISO 14044.

Do we have natural burial grounds in New Zealand?


There are a number of natural burial grounds around now which provide another choice for families wanting to keep the environmental footprint as small as possible.

Visit the Natural Burials website for more information on how to have a natural burial in New Zealand.

Funeral Directors

Funeral Directors are professionals entrusted to carry out the wishes of the family when a death occurs. Return to Sender supplies caskets to all New Zealand funeral directors.

As delivery timing is important we stock caskets in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. This ensures that our caskets can delivered as timely as possible.

If you have not yet selected a funeral director our advice is to visit some in person. This contact will give you a feel for their professionalism and facilities.  Many funeral directors do offer a range of natural options and services but you may need to request them rather than expecting them to suggest them.