A Hawke's Bay cafe-owning couple who have packed up and left Havelock North for Vanuatu for a gap year say they did it because of burnout.

It's a move that's not without risks, but it's one Birdwoods Gallery owners Louise and Bruce Stobart decided they had to do.

The Havelock North couple decided last year to leave the comforts of home and their much-loved business, which has developed into a local and visitor attraction just out of town.

They said running a hospitality venture of any kind requires a huge amount of energy and after 14 years felt they needed a break.

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"While we felt a huge sense of achievement and satisfaction of what we had created, the toll both mentally and physically was such that a change was in order," Louise and Bruce said.

Bruce and Louise Stobart arrive in Vanuatu with grins stretching ear-to-ear for a well-deserved break.
Bruce and Louise Stobart arrive in Vanuatu with grins stretching ear-to-ear for a well-deserved break.

Unlike most people who take a year off for an OE, the Stobarts had to take a calculated financial risk of leaving behind a well-established business.

"The hardest part of the move was making the decision. It was all very well to think that one would like to do it, but another in making it happen and it did not come without a fair few stresses," they said via email from Vanuatu.

"Leaving a healthy business, family and close friends was not easy, but we have been incredibly well supported by the Birdwoods team who are very capable and have the skills and personalities to keep Birdwoods as popular as ever.

"For this we are very grateful to have the opportunity to take a break and thanks to unlimited wifi there is no reason it should not work."

The Stobarts first fell in love with Vanuatu and the people on a family holiday in 2007 and became regular visitors.

The Stobart's will be enjoying some beautiful island views in Vanuatu.
The Stobart's will be enjoying some beautiful island views in Vanuatu.

Each time they returned they felt like it was a place they would like to live one day.

"The culture and the way of life, not unlike many African countries, and one we have some understanding of made it a good choice for us."

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At the beginning of March they left Hawke's Bay for Aore Island, 10 minutes' boat ride off L'Espiritu Santo in the northern part of the island chain.

"We leased a house right on the water overlooking the island capital, Luganville, from New Zealander Murray Connolly and his lovely partner Nanette, who established the Robert Harris coffee shop chain, to spend some time re-invigorating tired batteries.

"Life on the island is a far cry from Havelock North, it is completely off the grid where recycling really does mean recycling and coming to grips with solar energy appears to have been interesting. It is hot and humid at this time of year and mosquitoes are aggressive."

But it's not all about mosquito bites and recycling.

"It is not called a tropical paradise for nothing – the warm Pacific ocean teeming with reef fish, the local fruit and vegetable market abounds, a small intrepid community of expats and the greater island culture is a sure cure for any first world issues."

Apart from enjoying the island vibes the Stobarts are also resting assured about leaving the gallery in safe hands.

Birdwoods gallery is a local attraction near Havelock North. Photo / Supplied
Birdwoods gallery is a local attraction near Havelock North. Photo / Supplied

"In an act of mutual trust, we have sponsored a South African family from Clarens, in the Freestate whose family have been on the land for just on 150 years.

"Gregg and Kerry Mousley and their two teenage sons, Connor and Dylan arrived three months ago wanting to seek a better life in the wake of political uncertainty in their own farming community.

"Gregg and Kerry who aside from being farmers have a background of property management, tourism and retail skills will join the very capable team at Birdwoods in keeping it running to the highest of standards."