Taking a 1-year career break was the initial motivation for 31-year old Leandro Fossa to make the move from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to New Plymouth, but he has since fallen in love with Taranaki can has no plans to leave.
“I worked for places like Oracle Brazil and the Government of Rio de Janeiro but decided I’d had enough and I wanted to travel,” Leandro says.
“I wanted to come to New Zealand for a year and Taranaki was quite similar to my home in Brazil. I got a job as the Business Development Manager at Tenderlink, and stayed - Taranaki now feels like home.”
Leandro first discovered New Zealand through case studies in his Public Management studies.
“I became aware of many different things about the country – like being the first in the world to give women the right to vote, your Maori policies etc. I wanted to understand the country before I arrived so did a lot of research around the history and culture.”
Leandro had been in New Zealand for seven months before spending five weeks touring New Zealand with his mother.
“After that I decided to move here permanently, but it must be Taranaki – initially because of the great surf spots all within a short drive.”
On an average weekend Leandro can be found exploring Surf Highway 45 around Taranaki’s coast, heading to the renowned surf breaks that span the 105km road from New Plymouth to Hawera.
“If there isn’t any surf then there’s the coast to explore, the mountain for walking on, and lots of parties and BBQs to enjoy!”
“There’s just so much time here. I still work long hours but there’s no traffic so the lifestyle is much better in Taranaki,” Leandro says, “Sometimes it feels like there is 30 hours in each day because you finish work, go to the gym, go surfing, play tennis, go out for dinner with friends and then the day is over.”
While Leandro doesn’t make it back to Brazil as often as he would like, he has found apps like What’s App have helped him stay in touch with friends and family. He has had no trouble and has found it easy to fit in to his new community.
“If you’re an extrovert like me it’s very easy to fit in and meet new people. People are friendly in Taranaki,” he says.
“I just love how everyone is so laid back. The first time I went surfing in Taranaki, I met a guy in the waves and we got chatting. He ended up inviting me to stay at his house and now we’re friends. That would never happen where I’m from!”
“Taranaki is also really good at putting on big events, which bring in a special atmosphere,” Leandro says.
“I was really impressed with WOMAD, and the FIFA Under 20 World Cup, which brought a lot of people into town, and it was fantastic to have Brazil in New Plymouth. The support for the team was great, and I’m sure it helped Brazil perform so strongly!”
“Everyone in Brazil plays football – you can’t really get away from it. I played a lot when I was a teenager, but got a hip injury so decided to save my hips for surfing and tennis.”
“I’m trying to talk my friends in Auckland into moving here. My Brazilian friends wouldn’t do it – they don’t know what they’re missing. For anyone thinking about moving here, I’d recommend it.”