Whether its Andrew cycling, Kirsten walking and tramping or daughter Aimee (15) representing Taranaki on the rugby field, most weekends you’ll find Stratford’s Hare family out and about enjoying what Central Taranaki has to offer.

The family moved from Waimate in mid-Canterbury to Stratford, in central Taranaki, in 2013, an adventurous decision for the family whose roots were firmly planted in the south - Kirsten grew up in in North Otago, while Andrew is from Hakataramea in South Canterbury.

But despite having never been to Taranaki Andrew, a GIS mapping expert, jumped on a plane to check out a job opportunity in Stratford.

“You’re going to love it he said when he got back,” laughs Kirsten. “He described it as being a lot like Waimate.”
Despite similar job opportunities in the South Island, the Hare’s decided to have an adventure and move to Stratford.  

Stratford has indeed turned out to be just as friendly and relaxed as their former home - a smaller town with a lot to offer. Kirsten, a nurse, was easily able to find work in Taranaki, initially advertising her availability for temporary work in a Midlands Health publication. This resulted in a lot of temp work - a strategy that she recommends to nurses moving to Taranaki – before finding a role as a practice nurse with GPs in Stratford.

Finding a home took a little longer. The Hares wanted to know more about Stratford before buying, so rented at first.

“This gave us the opportunity to discover what we wanted and what the good locations were – something I’d definitely recommend to anyone moving to a new area,” says Kirsten.

Having done their research, the Hares purchased a lifestyle block, and have since moved to a second lifestyle block, five minute’s drive from Stratford in rural Ngaere. There’s room for two dogs, a goat and, when Aimee was younger, a pony.    

“We do miss friends and family down south, but manage to get down there regularly, and it was really easy to make new friends and fit into the community and schooling here.”

Moving towns, schools and friends can be tough on children, and Aimee was understandably nervous about the move, though five years on she’s very settled and has had some amazing experiences as part of her school and sporting life. A talented rugby player captaining youth teams at provincial level, Aimee has found the sport has sent her all over Taranaki and New Zealand.

“Through rugby, I’ve made friends from all around Taranaki and had opportunities to get really good support which I don’t think would happen everywhere,” Aimee says, citing running on to the field as the ball girl at an All Blacks versus Argentina test match in New Plymouth, and getting training with with All Black stars Beauden and Jordie Barrett and Ardie Savea and Dane Coles as examples.

In addition to rugby, Aimee has played top-level age grade basketball, which has also unlocked some fantastic opportunities through school camps around Taranaki and the North Island.

“Taranaki’s compact size and central location makes participating in sport and outdoor activities easy, and there’s really great support here for emerging players, through organisations like the Taranaki Rugby Football Union,” Aimee says.

But it's not just the teenager in the family that’s made most of life in Taranaki.

“There are so many great things here that are of really high standard,” says Kirsten. “That’s not something that’s well-known or immediately obvious, but a really good part of living here.”

Andrew cites Stratford’s international-grade hockey turf and the cycling options around the region as examples, while the region’s beaches also rate an honourable mention.

“From Stratford we can easily get to the popular beaches in New Plymouth, but also more out of the way spots like Patea and Opunake,” Andrew says.

For those considering a move to Stratford, Kirsten says go for it.
“Take the chance, it’s a great community.”