Saturday, 29 February 2020


Moving from the city to live in paradise

By Whitianga resident, Paul Blackman

Given the rapid growth of our small village, Whitianga, I thought it would be interesting to share our experience of moving here in 2001. It’s hard to believe now that we have lived here for almost 17 years.

My wife, Johanna and I first visited Whitianga in 2000. We fell in love with the Coromandel immediately. On our return to our home in Christchurch, we decided that the Peninsula was the place we wanted to retire to.

So, the following year we drove the length of the Coromandel to make our decision on where best to settle. It was an easy decision in the end, as the Mercury Bay area, specifically Whitianga, ticked all the boxes.

Our idea was to find a place which would be suitable to run as a Bed-and-Breakfast. So we called into Harcourts Whitianga and met Helen Larsen, now the Harcourts manager, who showed us 141 Centennial Drive.

My first reaction upon seeing the outside of the house was to keep driving. But luckily Helen was insistent that we check out the inside too, because we ended up making an offer that very day.

We both had a panic moment thinking, “Oh my goodness, what have we done?” Johanna and I both had great teaching jobs in Christchurch and we had no idea about how to run a Bed-and-Breakfast. Yet, somehow it felt like the right move.

We had to see the year out with our jobs, sell our Christchurch house and do all the other things one does when moving. Our Christchurch home sold within a week for exactly the same price as we paid for our new home in Whitianga.

When we arrived in December 2001, the only person I knew was a friend from my university days, Ron Morgan - or Zap as we used to call him. He was a teacher at Mercury Bay Area School He arrived with fresh snapper, bless him, and then ruined our plan to lay low for a while by dobbing us in at the school.

It turned out to be a God-send. The next day, Pat Doube, another MBAS teacher rang and asked us if we wanted to do some relieving. Soon after that we had a call from John Wright, the school principal, asking if we could fill in for a teacher who had some health issues.

A long story cut short, Johanna and I accepted John’s offer and shared the job, which was only going to be for the first term of 2002. I ended up staying for three-and-a-half years teaching drama, which I loved. Johanna continued to teach part-time while we ran the bed-and-breakfast.

Our experience taught us that when things are truly meant to be, in our case moving from the city to paradise, then everything works out perfectly. It is my guess that many of the people living in our little slice of heaven here in Mercury Bay have had a similar experience.  


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