The Rotokare Scenic Reserve welcomed Maj De Poorter who took the reigns from Kara Prankerd as project co-ordinator.
Kara (29) resigned after six years at the reserve outside Eltham, saying it is "now or maybe never" to tick off two major items on her bucket list: touring Europe and finish renovating the old villa she and partner Mat Kyle bought in Eltham almost three years ago.
With a degree in science and technology she says she had to learn about management on the go, but that she now cherishes the experience gained.
Hailing from Ngaere, Kara says she planned for a career "elsewhere", but now has no plans to leave.
She will stay on as a volunteer at Rotokare. Maj, did her Ph.D in Canada on the snowshoe rabbit and her expertise includes pest control and specie translocation.
Previously from Ark in the Park in Auckland, she says Rotokare as a pest-free fenced reserve provides her with the ideal opportunity to introduce threatened species, one being the brown teal.
For her, deciding to leave behind the big smoke was an easy decision.
"The kids (a 21-year-old daughter and 19-year-old son both studying at Auckland University) are starting to leave the house. I could have moped, but decided 'no, I will go on an adventure'."
A Belgian, she has been in New Zealand since 1986 and though she has some relatives through marriage in Hawera, she says it is her first time living in Taranaki.
She now lives in Eltham with dachshund Sammy.