In 2013, Derek Stevens and partner Hazel Kidner made the move to Taranaki from Adelaide, Australia, after having wanted to live the Kiwi lifestyle for years.
“We knew heaps about New Zealand – we’d been here a number of times and spent a lot of time backpacking around,” says Derek.
“We had family discover New Plymouth and rave about it. We visited over Easter 2013 and confirmed it was the place to be, so here we are.”
Derek made the move – a big one that involved changing industries, countries, size of city and employer – while Hazel stayed in Adelaide to sell their house, a process that took four months.
“That was tough, adding a bit of extra stress. In hindsight it’s the one thing we’d possibly do differently.”
But since Hazel swapped sides of the Tasman in November, the couple haven’t looked back.
Hazel, a palliative care nurse, is busy with casual nursing roles while Derek, formerly a Project Manager in the defence industry, has translated his skills successfully to the varied projects at New Plymouth’s Fitzroy Engineering.
Derek advises looking for jobs early on, and recommends getting in touch with the region’s development agency Venture Taranaki to help with connections. They also offer a free taranakijobsnz.com website which lists opportunities in the region.
In contrast to most new Taranaki residents, Derek has doubled his commute to work, from 10 minutes to a staggering 20 minutes, though this has enabled them to live in the country and take full advantage of the lifestyle. They’ve bought 10-acres and are currently planning their dream home.
Also contrary to expectations, they love the region’s rain.
“We really wanted to live somewhere that got rain,” says Hazel, “it’s good for the garden and our plan is to be as self-sufficient as we can on our property. Rain, and sun of course, were key criteria when it came to choosing where to live.”
While their lifestyle hasn’t changed, as such, it has improved.
“We expected and planned for a change in income given the move from Australia, but we knew what we were in for and it has meant we’ve now got the lifestyle we wanted.”
Hazel is learning how to surf, Derek has joined the New Plymouth Kayak Club, they love walking on the 200-plus kilometers of walking trails on Mount Taranaki, walking their dogs, mountain biking, and as many other outdoor activities as they can cram into the average weekend.
“We love that fact that you can move with the seasons here, and are looking forward to working on our land and in our garden. It’s exciting and there’s tonnes to do!”
While the couple found it very easy to fit into the Taranaki lifestyle, they understandably, miss the friends and family they had in Australia. Beyond that there isn’t much they are doing without.
“It can be a bit hard to find good Aussie red wines,” Dereck notes with tongue firmly in cheek, “but we love Taranaki and all it has to offer. There’s just so much to see and do here and great cafes and restaurants. It offers the perfect lifestyle for us and we look forward to becoming locals.”
“Taranaki is a real little gem. Can you please keep this a secret though, as we don’t want everyone to come here!”