Adventures at the end of the Long White Cloud

Our Next Life

  • David Swann

The Beginning of the Beginning

Updated: Apr 13, 2019

David + Sarah on the Milford Track

Sarah and I are contemplating a move down to the end of New Zealand (Aotearoa) - down to Invercargill (Waihōpai). We’ve spent the last 30 years raising three awesome daughters as we migrated our way from the UK to California to Wellington, New Zealand… and now the final step down to Southland.

From the UK to NZ via California

We’re doing this because we’ve finally caught on that the secret of happiness does not lie in the pursuit of money or the scaling of slippery corporate ladders. Happiness comes from living a meaningful life and enjoying the stunning wilderness that surrounds us here in New Zealand.

We’ve made the emotional part of the decision… now for the heads to catch up with the hearts and get the cold, hard financial decisions made. As Sarah and I have discussed this, we figure that others might be interested in what we’re thinking about… and we might help you to understand the realities behind any dream. Hence this blog!

To airbnb or not to airbnb... that is the question

We have a little nest egg squirreled away - ‘little’ being the operative word. We will need to find a living down in Southland. So we’re looking at becoming airbnb hosts - offering accommodation and experiences. If we’re good at it, we should be able to make a good living. If we’re not good at it, things would get alarming quickly.

So that’s our immediate focus - figuring out property options. We can’t afford a palace - far from it. But we figure we can afford a modest house with land - enough land to consider putting cabins as the basis of our airbnb offering.

As in most parts of the world, airbnb and like online accommodation providers are coming up against pushback as politicians and communities try to balance supply and demand across all the different accommodation offerings. We need to do this right - not least because we're going to be a bit public through this blog and associated YouTube channel. As we encounter the realities of becoming visible airbnb hosts, we'll share those realities through this blog.

The Business of Running a Business

Clearly, we need to run a successful business. I’ve set up and operated companies in New Zealand and I’ll share the blissfully easy process of starting a business here… and might even put a couple of articles together to document the less blissful aspects of keeping financial and tax records. That’ll be an interesting blog then...

But I think its important to share some of the realities behind our adventure. I suspect it isn't going to be easy running a business in a very cyclic market where mid-winter will inevitably be a quieter season than the summer.

Experiences - Sharing our World with our Guests

We need to offer AirBNB experiences; not only does this bring in additional money, it also aligns with our passion for the outdoors and showing guests around this wonderful country. We already know that we’ll need to offer vehicle tours (because Southland is big and walking is slow) which in turn involves churning through a range of regulatory fun. We’ll guide you through that as we meander through the red tape.

My Animals and other Families

Sarah is passionate about animals and I suspect that I’ll be surrounded by a veritable menagerie in fairly short order. Sarah’s promised to share the best of the animal experiences. You’ll be seeing kittens and puppies and other baby animals that will no doubt grow up to haunt the YouTube channel that will be the visual accompaniment to this blog.

Sarah's Dream

Gardening and Green Thumbs

My granddad was a professional gardner and I can still remember his greenhouse; the warm smell of jasmine, the terracotta glow as the sun shone onto the ranks pots. My dad then continued the tradition and had a beautiful and productive garden when I was growing up.

I've inherited that love of gardening and want to create an awesome garden which will be a sanctuary for us… and our guests. I can’t emulate Monty Don or Alan Titchmarsh… but I’ll try and share the rhythm of the seasons through a few timely videos on YouTube.

David's Dream (No, not the woman, the BUILDING)

Hiking and Tired Legs

Sarah and I are both passionate hikers. And we’re going to be surrounded by some of the most awesome wilderness on the planet. It would be a shame not to share our hiking adventures with you!

Sarah is extremely fit. I'm not. I've bought a gimbal mount so that you can't see the trembling of my legs as I'm producing video. I won't do many 'to camera' pieces because they haven't invented an audio filter that cuts out wheezing.

Woodworking and Ten Fingers

I’m a woodworker who sometimes gets two pieces of wood to fit together. I need to get better because I suspect our house will need a lot of TLC… and I suspect I’m also going to be the one who gets to build the cabin(s). I’ll share my woodworking learning experience with you… and hopefully get some useful tips and tricks from you.

My woodworking mantras:

  1. I counted ten fingers at the start of the project; I expect ten fingers at the end

  2. A sledgehammer should not be a woodworking tool

  3. Measure a hundred times, cut once, get angry, apply sledge hammer, use the evidence as kindling and start again. Repeat


We have an embryonic YouTube channel. That in itself is proving to be a major challenge as we figure out things like making interesting videos, grappling with video editing and a raft of other techno-babble. The plan is to get the YouTube channel to coexist with this blog. The YouTube channel will have a new vlog every couple of weeks and will necessarily cover the interesting stuff at a high level. This blog will dive into nauseating detail to help others who want to follow in our footsteps.

Technology... Aaaaarrrrrrrggggghhhh

I've always been fascinated with information and its technology, so its inevitable that I'll want to share the agonies of grappling with how I'll be delivering this blog, the YouTube channel, video rendering, photography... Geeks rejoice! Actually, if truth be told, I'm a bit pants with computers so I'm hoping to elicit a bunch of free tech support by highlighting my ineptness and making experts feel sorry for me. Deal?

And Everything Else

There’s going to be a ton of other things that we encounter on our adventures. We write (and video) this for you… so if you want us to cover anything, let us know. If you have any questions, we’ll answer them as best we can.

A few house rules for the blog. We won’t talk about politics or religion… and expect commenters to avoid those same elephant traps. We’re looking forward to supporting a lively and interesting community of subscribers… but don’t extend a welcome to trolls or anyone else who delights in hurting us or any other subscribers. Be nice to each other!

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