Mechanical engineer loving New Zealand's outdoor lifestyle

For British mechanical engineer Chris Luneburg, New Zealand’s major drawcard is its incredible outdoor lifestyle.

Chris and Elodie Luneburg

​"I love doing outdoor stuff, especially sailing," says Chris.

“I’d done some weekend racing when I was l working in London, but when I first came to New Zealand on holiday in 2009 I discovered sailing was everywhere in Auckland. I did loads of sailing on that holiday and I loved it.”

Chris’ partner, Emma, is a Kiwi, and in 2011 the couple made the decision to move to New Zealand.

While Chris has managed to fit in lots of sailing since then, he has also been able to build a rewarding engineering career in New Zealand.

Easy to fit in

Chris and Emma ended up moving to New Zealand earlier than expected after Emma’s mother became seriously ill.

Finding work wasn’t a problem for Chris, even at such short notice: he lined up a couple of interviews in advance and took the role he was interviewed for on the morning he arrived.

The role was as a senior hydraulics engineer in Auckland, New Zealand’s biggest city, for global engineering and infrastructure advisory company Aurecon.

He found the job similar to what he was doing in London, but with more fire protection work. New Zealand tends to have fewer specialist engineers than in Britain or the US, and the projects are often smaller.

Chris has stayed with Aurecon ever since, working on hospitals, commercial offices, apartments, data centres and exchanges. His role now involves managing a team.

“I’m really happy at work. I have a great line manager and work with a good group of people. I never felt like I was working in a foreign country – it was very easy to fit in.”

Become a mechanical engineer in New Zealand

Informal work culture

Chris believes New Zealand’s work culture is more laid-back than the UK’s. “Interactions are more informal and relaxed, and there’s no sense of class hierarchy.”

Chris says New Zealand workplaces seem to support flexible working and prioritise having a good work/life balance.

“There’s a strong message at work that the time you spend with your family or doing whatever you enjoy doing is of the utmost importance. Aurecon has formal policies to support this culture, such as YesFlex (which allows for flexible hours being worked in the office) and the Shared Care policy (which supports secondary carers and fathers to take active roles in the care of their children). I really appreciate that.”

While Chris is paid less in New Zealand than he was in Britain, he found that the pay differential evened out once he’d factored in London rental prices.

He and Emma were able to save up the deposit to buy their first home, which is just a 20-minute drive from the beach. 

A Kiwi water baby

Chris now has another tie to New Zealand: his toddler daughter, Elodie.

Like her parents, Elodie is mad about the sea. Chris and Emma have their own catamaran and are looking forward to getting Elodie involved in sailing.

New Zealand has 15,000 kilometres of coastline, so it’s an ideal country for people who love water sports and living near the sea.

“Being so close to the beach is fantastic. As well as sailing, we go bushwalking most weekends,” Chris says.

While there are things Chris misses about Britain – such as beer gardens and the ability to hop on a ferry and be in France in an hour – he loves living and working in New Zealand. He’s now planning to apply for citizenship.

“It’s awesome that my daughter is a Kiwi. This is where we have set up our home, and I consider myself a Kiwi too.”

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