New Zealand: "What's not to love?"

Dr Benjamin Alba moved from the UK to Tauranga, New Zealand in May this year to work as an Emergency Medicine Registrar. Ben loves to live an adventurous lifestyle and has an additional qualification in Expedition and Wilderness Medicine Diploma. He has spent time working at Mount Everest Base Camp as well as on other medical expeditions.

We caught up with Ben to find out a bit more about him, his adventures, and his move to New Zealand to work as a doctor.

Can you tell me a bit about yourself?

I am 27 years old and I was born in London. I grew up in the UK and South America, and then I went to Cardiff University from 2013-18. My main passions are a variety of sports and reading/writing.

Where were you living before you moved to New Zealand and what inspired you to make the move?

I was living in Thurso, working at Caithness General Hospital on the North Coast of Scotland. I have always wanted to come to New Zealand. I have heard so much about it; the focus on wildlife, and the outdoor lifestyle. Having made my way to Scotland to do just that I wanted to use work as a way of taking me abroad before going back for training.

You relocated to Tauranga. How did you find the town and what are your favourite things to do there?

Tauranga, Mount Maunganui, and Papamoa are nice areas. Close by is the Kai Mai range, with lots of half-day and day hikes, big waterfalls, and bushland. Rotorua is an hour away, with lots of good mountain biking, activities, gigs, and some multi-day hikes. Then the beach is right on the doorstep, living in the Mount I can walk to the surf break from my house. Tongaririo is 3hrs away, Auckland 2hrs, Coromandel 2hrs. Tauranga is really accessible to lots of good spots, and there is an airport that easily takes you to the South Island.

I hear that you have a background in adventure medicine can you tell me about some of the most interesting trips you've been on?

So I did a diploma from the University of South Wales in the UK in Expedition and Wilderness Medicine back in my F3 year alongside work. I had previously worked with a couple of UK companies on long-distance races but felt that to get into the Expedition World I needed some qualifications. Since then I’ve been offered a few jobs, I went to Everest Base Camp last season on a 16-day trek with an Irish company and have just been offered to go and live at Everest Base Camp working for Adventure Consultants, one of the most renowned companies in the world, to look after their climbers on Everest for next season. Obviously, there are challenges to this work but I find the work interesting, different from my day-to-day ED work, and engaging with a variety of cultures, using the work abroad is so enriching.

Have you had any adventures in New Zealand?

So many. When I got here I drove over Wellington and up the East Coast for over a week. My favourite stop was Castlepoint and I got a magical sunrise there (see the headline photo). I have done the Tongariro Northern Circuit, skied all the fields (TC, Cardys, Remarks, Coronet) in the South as well as got a day in at Whakapapa (was told it was the best day of the season, three lifts open whappaow!) I have also been to Coromandel a few times, surfed in Raglan, raced the Mount Half Marathon, and been on a big trip to Northlands. Heading to the South Island for some mountaineering and climbing next week and going to get Taranaki and another big van trip in February.

How does living in New Zealand differ for you from living in the UK?

Life here certainly has a different focus; outdoors, getting out and about, and making the most of the daylight hours. Kiwi's bedtime at around 2000hrs! Getting up for a sunrise surf before work. Life is more relaxed here, less hectic, no large cities (other than Auckland), and getting out into the countryside in minutes. What's not to love?

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Jordy Black
24 November 2022Article by Jordy BlackMedrecruit Editor