Moving cities two weeks before having a baby wasn’t part of Ashlee and Cody Spicer’s plan, but now they’re glad they did. They’re raising their two sons near the beach, with friends and family close by and a lifestyle that wouldn’t have been possible if they’d stayed in a big city.
After living and working in London and Auckland, Ashlee and Cody had their eye on settling in New Plymouth, where Ashlee grew up. They weren’t in a rush - there were two boxes they wanted to tick first. As fate would have it, the stars aligned right before their second son arrived.
“I wasn’t sure I’d find a job that would allow me to progress my career,” Cody says. “I had a commercial manager role in Auckland, and when I was offered the CFO role with Formsteel they offered to pay relocation costs to move to their New Plymouth office.”
“It’s a close knit community and it’s just such an epic place for kids and families. I just feel like they can be proud of being from Taranaki.”
With that box ticked, the next challenge was finding a house. Moving to Taranaki was largely about having a family friendly lifestyle, and ideally that meant being close to the beach.
“We had plans to move at some stage, maybe a few months after we’d had our son Alfie,” Ashlee says. “Then we found this house in Fitzroy, right by the beach and the school, and we just went for it.”
As it turned out, they had just enough time to move and get settled before Alfie arrived, joining older brother Jude (2). The timing couldn’t have been any better.
“We get out and do plenty as a family,” Cody says. “In Auckland, it would take 30 minutes to get anywhere, which means 30 minutes getting home again. If you’re doing something for a couple of hours, that can pretty much be your whole day. Here, you can fit three things into a day - the beach is our backyard, we can get to the zoo, go for a walk…it’s so easy.”
“So much of it is free too,” Ashlee adds. “We have places like Puke Ariki library and museum and the Len Lye Centre - I just discovered their activity room the other day, which is amazing for kids.”
Cody’s work schedule is much better for enabling family time during the week too, with his old two hour commute now replaced by a five minute bike ride.
It’s easier to see friends, including when they just bump into people at the beach.
“I always wanted to have our children grow up here,” Ashlee says.
Top Taranaki Highlights
“We’ve been surprised by how many amazing events happen here year-round. The Festival of Lights, and WOMAD are definitely family-favourites!”
Free family activities
“Brooklands Zoo is a highlight, you can often find us there on the weekend. It’s free to enter with so many colourful animals, and an epic playground for the kids too.”
The family love Puke Ariki museum and library, as it has so many free activities for the whole family.
Exploring the great outdoors
Weekends tend to involve getting out in nature and exploring the many tracks and trails. They say it’s hard to beat Lake Mangamahoe, a popular walking and mountain bike area with beautiful scenic views of Mount Taranaki.
Surf Highway 45
“The beach is a huge part of our lifestyle and Taranaki has so much coastline to explore. Fitzroy beach is our local, but we love following Surf Highway 45 out to spots like Back Beach and Opunake too.”