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"We feel healthy and stress-free!"

A Derbyshire couple found the perfect outdoor lifestyle for them in NZ’s Central Otago, writes Liane Voisey

We wanted to experience a great outdoor lifestyle, live an easier pace of life with lots of space, and be able to afford our own business,” says Kim Winterbottom, about her decision to move with husband Phil to New Zealand 14 years ago. The couple had tired of the over- populated UK and its ongoing traffic congestion problems, and decided that a change was in order.

Phil, 60, had first applied to emigrate to New Zealand back in the 1970s, explains Kim, but at the time, it was a requirement that migrants were assigned to work for the same company for a minimum of two years, something he was not prepared to commit to. The visa application was put on hold but a visit to the country in 1990 revived Phil’s interest again, and both he and Kim, 46, decided to apply for their visas.

Says Kim: “Once we had been accepted to live in NZ, we only had six months left on our visa and we hadn’t sold our house in the UK, so we visited the country for a holiday to collect our Returning Residency Visas, which allowed us to come and go as often as we wanted for four years without losing our right to live here.” Network Migration NZ assisted the couple with their move, and were very helpful, says Kim. “They explained the residency application process to us thoroughly, so the process felt very straightforward.”

After selling their house in 1995 and pulling together all their savings, the couple headed off to NZ, taking the opportunity to visit various countries along the way, before arriving in Auckland in February 1996. The couple settled in a city B&B for a few days, and after registering with a bank and purchasing a van, the couple set off to explore the Northland region, to view businesses and properties.

Kim and Phil were staying in the town of Whangarei when they came across a newspaper ad about a property available to lease in the South island. it was Lake Roxburgh Lodge in Central Otago. The couple had to view it.

HEADING SOUTH

As the couple made their way to Lake Roxburgh, Kim and Phil began to imagine what it might be like to live and work in the towns and villages they came across in the South island. Coming from Derbyshire, the couple had always enjoyed living close to the hills and mountains. “We both enjoy walking and before leaving the UK, spent many a happy hour on the hills,” says Kim.

Basing themselves in a local campsite in Roxburgh, a real estate agent showed them the property. The couple liked what they saw, and after deciding to sign a lease on the Lodge, they moved in on 21 March 1996. At the time, the décor of the Lodge was somewhat dated, so the couple set about modernising it and making huge improvements. All the major work was complete by 1999, but they were reluctant to spend any more money as they did not own the property freehold. By this time, the couple had increased the business turnover, and the landlord has started to increased the rent by five times the amount.

Says Kim: “We were faced with the decision of staying put and negotiating the rent payable or negotiating a price for the freehold. We decided that we liked the area, the work and the lifestyle the business afforded us, so we went for the latter.” After a few days of lengthy conversations,the sale went through and the couple became owners of Lake Roxburgh Lodge.

By 2000, the couple had become NZ citizens, but the purchase of their home and business helped to cement their commitment to stay in the country, and they decided to carry on with the refurbishment of the Lodge. Phil’s engineering background came into its own while the various refurbishments took place, and Kim’s experience in the UK’s hospitality industry meant that she could manage the day-to- day running of the business.

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