I was looking for a change, and the opportunity to move to Auckland was too good to pass up.

I’m originally from Birmingham in the West Midlands, UK – the ‘first manufacturing town in the world’ – but before the move to New Zealand I was living in London for eight years. I’m used to the busyness of the big city and didn’t know much about the little big city that is Auckland, apart from what I’d read online. When Planit (an NRI company) offered to bring me to New Zealand and set me up in the Auckland branch, I knew this opportunity for a new experience was too good to pass up.

Making the move

Taking advantage of a career opportunity I was fortunate enough that Planit arranged my move here. I knew that if I were to move anywhere in New Zealand, Auckland would have to be the place - it has that hum and buzz I’m used to. I quickly learned Auckland is home to a lot of startups and has a great enthusiasm for innovation and new technology. Planit enables clients to accelerate the delivery of quality software with comprehensive testing services and digital solutions. That means we’re checking software to ensure it’s robust and going to deliver as intended and promised.

As a test consultant, I’m currently deployed within the digital cards platform for a major New Zealand bank, meaning I get to be a part of Auckland’s tech and finance industries. It’s a busy sector, with significant growth and great opportunities for career development.

One thing I’ve noticed is that New Zealand is ahead of the game when it comes to some technologies – and certainly quicker and more agile in picking them up and running with them – so sectors like banking move at a great pace.

Adjusting to the Kiwi way

When I first arrived in Auckland, I was blown away by the friendliness of the locals. Living in London prior to coming to New Zealand, I wasn’t used to people randomly saying ‘Hello’ to me on the street – but that’s just what happened to me on my first day, after I’d been to the bank to set up my accounts. That was the sign that we would fit in just fine.

I’ve found the work culture in New Zealand really surprising. Because Auckland is a smaller city, where everyone knows everyone, it’s really important to build good working relationships. This creates a really strong professional culture, which is great.

One thing that makes Auckland so welcoming is how friendly, generous and kind the people are. When you have the trust and respect of your peers, they’re willing to get beside you and it’s possible to all advance together. It’s made it so easy to become a part of the city.

Making the most of the city

Waitakere Ranges Arataki Visitor Centre

I came from a place that was fast-paced and stressful, so it took a little time to make the transition to the friendly, casual way we do things in Auckland. Compared to my life in the UK, what I love about Auckland is how much quieter it is!

In Henderson, we’re not too far from the beach, so on warm nights after work I’ll drop off my stuff at home and my partner, daughter and I will take a sunset walk to explore somewhere different. There are also plenty of great markets to see, so we’re often out on the weekend as a family seeing what fresh produce is on offer or trying out new food.

We’re lucky that Henderson backs onto the Waitākere Ranges, which are easy to disappear into for a walk and some fresh air. We’re relaxed here and even though the weather patterns take a bit of getting used to, we see a lot more sunshine here!

Taking the leap

I have to admit, it was quite an emotional experience moving to Auckland as I’ve never been so far away from the rest of my family. I’m very close to them, so even the decision to come over took some time. It was also hard to decide what to bring with me with the baggage allowance – it felt like that team-building scenario ‘What would be the five things you would take with you on a lifeboat’!

But soon, I was on the flight to New Zealand with my life in the stowaway luggage compartment, on my way to making Auckland my new home. That was more than seven years ago and I haven’t looked back. Things feel so much safer and more family friendly here, and the opportunities for personal and professional growth are everywhere you look.

Michael Lawson is a test consultant with Planit, the quality software delivery accelerators. He moved to Auckland from the UK seven years ago.

Like the rest of the world, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland is adjusting to life amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Our borders currently remain closed to anyone other than a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident, those travelling from quarantine-free travel zones, or those granted a special exemption. Please visit our COVID-19 update for visitors and Aucklanders for the latest information.

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