Australian Katy Pakinga moved across from Tasmania late last year after working as a radio host, and after talking to a friend living in Hanmer Springs, she decided to pack up her life, including her dog and take the leap.
During her career in Tasmania she built up a strong and diverse portfolio, from running choirs, being involved in musicals and even performing with the likes of Australian legends Diesel and Jimmy Barnes. Recognition of her work reached a national stage in 2009, when she was the Tasmanian nominee for Young Australian of the Year.
Moving to New Zealand has been somewhat of a homecoming for Katy, she has family ties in the North Island having spent a lot of time in the Hokianga where her father was from. But felt an itch to explore the South Island as well.
"I thought basing myself in Hanmer Springs would be a fantastic location to settle in, as I’ve got a great natural playground to call home, as well as the opportunity to see what else is about too."
The move brought with it some initial challenges however. 10 days after settling in Hanmer Springs, the region was hit by the Kaikoura Earthquake.
While it was Katy’s first experience in an earthquake, she took to the streets a few days later to make a video telling travelers the village was still open for business.
“All the tourism operators were quite happy for me to come in and make a silly video. “The drop in visitor numbers did hurt those businesses directly afterwards, but they are starting to get back on track now, as long as we keep supporting them”
Katy quickly established herself in the community, utilizing social media to make connections within the village and offer her services.
‘I’m super organized and a big fan of social media, so I was quickly on the local Hanmer Springs pages introducing myself, and straight away I had lots of people offering advice and asking questions about what I could do or how I could work with them”
As a performer, she is looking forward to the coming months with the sun beating down, while she entertains locals, visitors and those in between. Katy is chomping at the bit to get out strumming the guitar at the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa.
“They were the first venue to hire me when I came over, and it’s always a fantastic experience to play in such a magical setting.”
For Katy she knew she was going somewhere special, and her decision was the right one to come to Hanmer Springs when she was driving over the Waiau Bridge. For her it doesn’t matter the season, or whether it’s wet, windy or even if the skies look worrisome, there’s so much natural beauty to see around the district and everyone should experience it.
You can follow Katy on Facebook.