Jason and Mel Clout, and their three young children Carter, Hariett and Harvey, moved from Christchurch to Taranaki in early 2019 and have found the lifestyle they always dreamed of.

Jason was born and raised in Taranaki but left the region in 2003 to join the Navy. He knew the region offered a relaxed pace of life, lots of outdoor activities, and all the great aspects of living in a smaller community and was looking forward to sharing this with his family.

“Settling back into Taranaki we really noticed how strong the community spirit is here, people genuinely want to see others try new things and do well,” Jason says.

The family have found it easy to slot into the community and were quick to get involved in anything going.

“It’s the sort of place where you get out what you put in. While it’s easy to just go with the flow in big cities, here if you get involved in the community you meet so many great people and the place just becomes better and better!”

“Everything here works with one phone call. Everyone knows someone that can help – one call with a question will either give you the answer or the right person to ask.”

“For instance, I needed fire wood so my brother put me in touch with someone who dropped off a load of wood the next week. We got talking about what I could do with the land I had, and that’s how I ended up with my 3 beefies along with advice on how to look after them.”

“I can’t believe how helpful the people here are, and how many people were willing to help us out in the first few months.”

One of the biggest things that attracted them back to Taranaki was the fact they could buy some land, and the family has since found a block with a few paddocks only an eleven-minute drive to Jason’s office in central New Plymouth.

“Finding a place took a while, as there was a lot of interest and places were getting snapped up quickly. We couldn’t jump on a flight up from Christchurch every weekend, so our family went to a lot of open homes for us and reported back!”

That long-distance leg work paid off, and the family are now happily ensconced on a 3-acre block – complete with three cattle, pig pen, and a sizable vegetable garden - on New Plymouth’s western edge.

“We love it here. It’s so close to town yet feels like we are out in the country the moment we get home. In Christchurch we were half an hour from anywhere, but still in the suburbs.”

The family has had to pick up a rural skillset that spans fencing, stock management, and the finer points of vegetable gardening, but are relishing both the learning curve and the outcome.

“Buying some land, we really threw ourselves into the unknown and looked at each other and said let’s just do it. The worst that could happen is we will learn something new!”

And while traffic noise is often considered a downside, the family can occasionally hear from the Taranaki Motocross Park a few km further up the road.

“We love to hear the motocross bikes going for it – it’s the sound of a heap of people having so much fun,” Jason says.

Having fun and getting out and doing things is a common theme with the Clouts, who on any given weekend can be found on the side lines of one of the kids’ rugby match, hanging out with friends and family, exploring the region, or working in the garden or on the section. Jason is even eyeing up a return to the rugby field next season, once a niggling shoulder injury is ironed out.

“There are just so many activities to do, all within a small space. It would be hard to find anywhere else where you can walk up the mountain in the morning then hit the beach in the afternoon. It’s such a great place to bring up kids - everything is at your fingertips, they just don’t have time to get bored. This place truly does have so much to offer.”

And while moving regions, starting a business and taking on a small farm might sound like a lot cram in, Jason has been able to slow down.  

“The pace of life here in Taranaki is so great I can actually notice my heart rate slowing down. I just wish there were more hours in the day so we could get out and play in the province more!”

“We will always have a strong connection to Canterbury - that is where we became a family - but in Taranaki we have more time and things to do as a family. We are no longer just existing in life, we are living it.”

And while Mel, a native South Islander, made a big sacrifice to move to Taranaki she’s become one of the biggest converts.

“We were driving through the centre of New Plymouth one day and she said to me ‘you know what? Everything in Taranaki is better than in Canterbury.’”

“I had to hold back my smile and refrain from saying I told you so!”