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Daniel ‘Chuck’ Norris moved to Taranaki from Sydney with his partner Laura in April 2014, coming home to New Zealand, but choosing to look beyond his native Tauranga.

“It was time to come back to New Zealand and put some roots down, but while I was very aware of what New Zealand had to offer, I was surprised how little I knew about Taranaki. It’s a well-kept secret!”

Daniel spent five days in Taranaki to check it out before deciding to move home. While his earlier perceptions were of the region’s rural nature, he was most impressed with the potential to balance lifestyle and work.

“The lifestyle was more relaxed, and access to activities suited what we were seeking to do in our personal time. This made it an easy decision to shift home from Australia,” Daniel says.

While shifting their lives across the Tasman could have proven an expensive move, Daniel found that research paid off. He discovered tax breaks around shipping his car over rather than having to buy a new one, and using a foreign money transfer service rather than bank transfers to get better exchange rates.

“It’s also worth setting up a bank account in New Zealand prior to arriving. This helps with money transfers and also receiving wages from new employment.”

“It is all about being comfortable with change in your life and knowing that putting effort into ensuring things are sorted makes the transition easier. There are a lot of things to monitor and watch, but make the list, check it twice and don’t leave anything to chance.”

Daniel found his new job, as Regional Manager with South Taranaki’s massive Fonterra dairy business through his LinkedIn network, and applied through Seek.co.nz.

While he now travels from New Plymouth to Hawera most days—a commute of 74km— it can take half an hour less than his former 54km commute in Sydney.

Daniel and Laura have bought a 1900 villa in New Plymouth’s CBD, and love the central location. While they are restoring the villa to its former glory, Daniel would have looked into building a new home rather than buying an existing property if he did it again, as the renovations are keeping him pretty busy.

When not indulging in the great Kiwi tradition of DIY, he spends his time walking the dog on the off-leash beach or heading to the region’s parks and cafes.

It was easy to fit into local life. “I love how friendly Taranaki people are, though you have to adjust to that coming from a big city. It’s occasionally nice to just get lost in a bigger city, but doing that on future holidays will be enough.”

Two other aspects that needed some adjustment were the temperature, and putting layers on rather than taking them off, and the reduced trading hours at weekends.

“Shops being closed on Sunday wasn’t something I encountered in Sydney. But, while Taranaki isn’t a big place, it has the highest per capita GDP in New Zealand, which means it is a sign the region is going places.”

Daniel still gets a laugh when he has to pay for parking in Taranaki - he got $48 in change from the $50 he handed over for a recent 4-hour stint at the local mall.
“After living in Sydney I had assumed that $50 wasn’t going to be enough.”

  A well-kept secret – Daniel ‘Chuck’ Norris  
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