My recent blog, #60 Eat Kangaroo Steak, was the last bucket list item that I completed while I was living in Canada. Later that year I moved to New Zealand to begin some new adventures. Here is how it all happened…
In 2011, I was two years away from finishing my degree in mechanical engineering and it was time to start thinking about life after university. The option staring me straight in the face was to move to Western Canada and put my education to work in the oil & gas industry. Most engineers from the East Coast go down this path because of the promise of big money.
I didn’t have any issues with the oil & gas industry and the thought of earning big money out of university was nice but I heard many stories about the lifestyle in the Canadian oil patch and it didn’t sound fun. Long days and cold temperatures in an isolated part of the country, several hundred kilometers away from the ocean.
I put in that last part because I had just learned how to surf and it was my biggest passion at the time. The thought of being that far from the ocean was not an option. Jesse was the one who taught me how to surf and we became best mates as we surfed and studied our way through university.
Jesse had been doing some research and found out that engineers were on the long-term skill shortage in New Zealand. He had also heard about good waves down in that corner of the world. He floated the idea of moving to NZ after university and being surfing engineers. I instantly loved the idea and from the first time he mentioned, my mind grabbed a hold of it.
For the next two years I researched everything I could about New Zealand but instead of starting with Google, I started with Magic Seaweed (the surf report we used in Canada). I knew nothing about New Zealand but knew that I had to pick a city to live in.
I pulled up the surf report for the whole country and looked for the biggest cluster of blips, which indicate surf spots. The largest cluster was around this bulgy chunk of land on the west coast of the North Island. The region was known as Taranaki and I soon found out that New Plymouth was the major city in the region. I decided early on that New Plymouth was going to be my new home.
I switched over to google and discovered that New Plymouth was a small oceanside town with a great surfing and outdoor culture. The region is home to one single mountain, which majestically towers over the city and has a ski field on it. The more I kept searching, the more boxes New Plymouth was ticking for me.
Once I finally began looking at the industries in the region I found out that it is the oil & gas hub of the whole country. With that last bit of information, I knew I would find work and I knew it was the place for me.
Unfortunately, Jesse decided he needed to stay in Canada after university to pay back some of his student loan. He promised that one day he would come over and follow the plan of being surfing engineers. It looked like I was going to head to NZ by myself until my friend Kyle told me that he wanted in, about six months before I was set to leave.
Once Kyle jumped onboard we began planning a bit of travel for the first few months because there was no way I was ready to go straight into a career out of university. I began selling everything I owned to scrape together as much money as possible for travelling in NZ.
The plan was to go for a month-long snowboarding trip down on the South Island before returning to New Plymouth to find work. We also did a couple months of touring around the North Island to fulfil our sense of adventure. A lot of my bucket list adventures you will read about over the next few months were from my time spent touring around NZ.
I managed to cross several items of my list during this time and have continued to cross items off over the years with overseas holidays. New Plymouth is my home for now and I have never looked back on the decision to move here with regret. Who knows what the next six years will bring, but for now I’m still trying to explore every corner of this beautiful country!
Oh yeah, and Jesse final moved to NZ in 2016!
Have you been to New Zealand? Let me know in the comments below.
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Dave has been on a mission, since 2010, to cross off the 100 items on his bucket list. The stories of his adventures are complimented by life lessons learned along the way and his travel tips are unique to his experiences.