While many might be inclined to ease into married life, Rebecca and Mike Maxim chose to move to New Zealand from Yorkshire, UK, just five days after getting married in 2012.
“We had never been to New Zealand before, but heard great things about its outdoor lifestyle and the work/life balance it offered,” says Rebecca.
A cardiac physiologist, Mike applied for jobs in New Zealand he found online from the UK, and was offered two positions, one in the southernmost city of Invercargill, and the other in New Plymouth, Taranaki.
To help make the decision the couple had brochures sent over from Venture Taranaki, and thought Taranaki looked amazing. Mike took the New Plymouth job, with the Taranaki District Health Board.
“We didn’t know anything about Taranaki, so did a lot of reading and research to make sure it was the right choice,” Rebecca says.
“The hospital’s cardiology department staff reassured us all the way that Taranaki was the right choice – and they were right! Then we were helped through the residency process by the HR department at the Taranaki District Health Board.”
While the visa and residency applications were relatively straightforward, they did take a while to complete, though the couple now considers it a very worthwhile investment.
“The most stressful part of making the move was planning a wedding only 5 days before we left!”
Once they were settled in Taranaki, Rebecca approached local design agency TGM to see how she could help their clients raise their profile through public relations and marketing, and soon had a permanent job.
“Work life balance is much better here, and there’s no hierarchy at work – everyone is treated the same. We have fun but we get the work done, and it’s really rewarding,” says Rebecca.
Mike has found his new workplace also encourages teamwork, and that it’s hard not to go through the day with a smile on his face.
The couple used money received for their wedding to get a camper van as soon as they arrived, but found that finding a place to live was easy. They now rent a house in the seaside community of Oakura, around 10 minutes drive from central New Plymouth along Surf Highway 45, with a carport for the camper.
“We’re paying the same price to rent as we did back in the UK, but now we have lots of garden space to entertain friends and having summer BBQ’s, an open fire for winter, and we can walk to the beach with our surfboards,” Rebecca says.
“The commute is spectacular, through green farmland with views of the mountain on one side, and the sea on the other. And there’s absolutely no traffic – ever!”
“It’s no wonder Oakura came so strongly recommended!”
“We were told that moving to New Zealand we would encounter the same weather as England but how wrong people were! We couldn’t have asked for a better summer and the nights are brighter much longer so you can surf and do other things after work.”
“It’s been really easy to fit into the community here, and everyone has been so welcoming. The hospital has done a really good job of initiating staff with workshops to help newcomers understand the history of New Zealand, and Mike is naturally sociable, so the BBQ lifestyle suits him very well.”
“It’s an added bonus that he can attempt BBQ cooking here without having to shelter under an umbrella – a common occurrence back in England,” laughs Rebecca.
“Most weekends we load up the camper van and head off to a new corner of the country, sampling the local adventures and activities wherever we end up. In the last month we’ve done a bungee jump, gone rafting, rock jumping, kayaking, dolphin watching, snorkeling with stingrays, sea fishing, surfing, and tramping.”
“The outdoors is just so accessible here, and we’ve both started surfing more since we got here, something we had never really been able to do before.”
“We find we just don’t watch TV here, which is probably because we only get two channels at home, but also because we’d rather spend the time being active and socializing.”
“Of course we miss family, but Skype really helps. Mike misses the beer back home too, but we really don’t miss queues, the traffic or the poor weather.”
When it comes to tips for anyone making the move to Taranaki, Rebecca cautions against this trap for new arrivals:
“Mike ran over his surfboard with the camper van the second day after we arrived in New Zealand! I found it hilarious. Him, not so much.”