Jan Franklin visited Taranaki while on holiday from the UK in 1999 and 2003, though recalls the places seemed like a bit of a ghost town. It wasn’t until she moved to New Zealand permanently in 2005 that the region’s charms became apparent.
“I remember the first time I visited, in 1999 for a friend’s wedding, I had this overwhelming feeling of serenity and calmness, from the moment I landed in Auckland. We saw a lot of the North Island on that trip – enough to inspire me to come back in 2003 and spend four and a half months exploring in a campervan, in the middle of winter which was a bit brave,” says Jan.
From those early visits to Taranaki, Jan knew it was different to the UK, particularly the fact that the region wasn’t open all hours.
“It was weird that things closed at 5pm on weekdays and 1pm on a Saturday. It was a ghost town by comparison, but have since come to realise that the flip side are fewer people, less pollution, better weather and a more relaxed lifestyle.”
Jan headed to a New Zealand job expo in London, where she narrowed down regions likely to offer positions where she could use her experience as a food technician, and her then partner could also get an engineering role.
“There were a number of places that we could go and work, and Taranaki was one of them. My job was only going to take us to Auckland which we didn’t want so we went with Taranaki, and I have never looked back,” Jan says.
“The emigration process was really easy, though I must confess that my ex did most of the paperwork. All I had to do was pack up the boxes, load the container and jump on the plane.”
Jan began with a work visa, which she converted to residency, but hasn’t got as far as citizenship yet.
Jan found her job, as a Technical Team Lead at dairy giant Fonterra, through the newspaper, and has found her workplace a lot more enjoyable, with greater opportunities and appreciation. Work is a 30-minute commute – long by Taranaki standards, though considerably better than she was used to – from the semi-rural lifestyle block she and husband Linz have bought near Egmont Village.
“It’s a really quiet and friendly area, with not much traffic. The location is great too, we’ve got lots of time for entertaining!”
“I was terribly over the UK, and apart from friends and a best mate, don’t miss much about my life there. Everything you need is here, you don’t need to leave the region, and Kiwis are so easy-going that it has been really easy to become part of the community.”
“I like that Taranaki isn’t on the main route - you have to have a reason to come here.”
“I love it. I don’t actually want to live anywhere else in New Zealand. It’s home!”