Rochdale Man in Broad Bay

Rochdale Man in Broad Bay

It all started with a conversation.

I was working for DOC as a warden on the Routeburn Track in 2004, based at Howden Hut which is sadly no longer with us.  We wardens had four days off out of 14 and my motorbike needed a service so I booked it in at Dunedin’s Uptown Motorcycles, also sadly no longer with us.  Once the bike was suitably refreshed with lubricants, I had a spare day to kill so decided to ride out to Taiaroa Head to look at the Albis.

I’d never been out on the Peninsula before, but even before I reached Portobello, I was in love with the place.  Nice, fast, twisty road, perfect for a motorbike (sadly no longer with us), mural-covered bus stops, galleries, cafes and a pub; truly I’d found the place!  I’d been looking around for places to live in New Zealand since I arrived here in 2000, and this journey was shaping up with all kinds of possibilities as it was obviously loved by the people who lived here.

The Albatross Centre visit was crowned for me when an adult breeder landed to feed its chick right in front of the hide. I was hooked.  I’d seen pigeons in Rochdale but this was different!  We were being guided that day by local Rachel Wesley and I asked her how she had ended up working as a guide there (the conversation).  I told her I’d been working for DOC and wondered if there were jobs going and she kindly took my details.  Now, I thought she was just being kind and I’d never hear from her or the Albatross Centre again but…I was wrong.

After the season with DOC ended, I went to visit family in England and was on my way back to NZ, killing time in Singapore, when I checked my emails. And there was one form the Albatross Centre: was I still interested in a job?

So that’s my story; within six months of first setting foot on the Otago Peninsula I had a job and a lovely house in Broad Bay.  Over the years I have worked as a guide for most of the companies out here including Monarch and Elm and have had great experiences with the wildlife, people and community.

I’m never going back to Rochdale anyway!

By John Burke

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