The luxurious splendour of a million-dollar superyacht is a world away from the bustling wards of Auckland City Hospital.

But the move is an easy choice for the former chief steward of the 49m Thalia, who has jumped ship for a nursing job.

Now off the Thalia - owned by Russian tycoon Mikhail Khimich, owner of the Waiwera water company - Alice Tempest is Auckland City Hospital's newest cardiothoracic surgical ward nurse.

Tempest, 32, told the Herald on Sunday she gave up a financially rewarding and adventurous career on the high seas for the intrinsic rewards of nursing.


"I was at the top of my game professionally, but it is not about the money," she says.

"As a nurse, I feel I can smile at the end of the day knowing I have helped people," she says.

Tempest, who is from the UK, chose nursing because she loves to travel. A worldwide nursing shortage means she can take her pick of locations.

The New Zealand Nurses' Organisation estimates a shortage of 120 nurses in Auckland district alone. There are 47,000 practising registered nurses in New Zealand.

Tempest, who trained in New Zealand, says she first thought of becoming a nurse in 2007 while working on board another yacht.

"I was looking for a change, and I heard about a friend who was a nurse and went to Dubai for a job. I thought 'this is something I can do'," she says.