In search of a sea change Whangamata Ocean Dental Whangamata Ocean Dental is the result of one man’s search for a sea change. It was 2010 when its founder David Henderson decided to sell his busy Queen Street practice and look to start up a lifestyle dental practice in coastal NZ.
This small coastal town at the bottom of the Coromandel caught his eye as the place to find the work-life balance he was seeking. What he found here far exceeded even his wildest imaginings.
Whangamata was then and still is a semi-rural town revered mainly for having a nice beach with a legendary left-hand break. Look the name up on the internet and there are a multitude of sites touting its stunning beach as its main attraction as a holiday spot. It was even voted as “best beach town in New Zealand” in 2019.
The year-round population just sneaks past 4,000 residents, but in the summer time explodes to upwards of 60,000 at its peak, as holiday homes, motels and camp grounds fill up with families and tourists on their annual pilgrimage for the iconic Kiwi beach holiday.
What the online write-ups don’t tell you about Whangamata is how friendly the people are and how much this small community takes care of one another.
“You feel like you are part of one big family here” says David. “The clubs are all well supported – the fishing club has over 6,000 members (2,000 more than the population) and there are so many successful businesses around.”
The original pull was the chance to enjoy more fishing and diving, and perhaps have a boat at the local marina. Whangamata had all that only minutes away from the front door.
A house overlooking the ocean was also able to be ticked off the wishlist, and even now here the million-dollar views are still attainable for five figures.
“I can enjoy my passions more often, maybe head out on a whim if the conditions look good from the balcony at home. I get to see the boats heading out from the marina while I have breakfast, so even if I am working, I feel connected to the sea every day.”
The desire for more time away from work is arguably the top reason many leave the city. The time it takes to get to work here is too short to be called a commute. Less than 5 minutes driving time with the sparkling Pacific Ocean on display for most of the journey.
“Most of the year it is mild enough for me to walk or cycle to the office, and the friendly hellos you get on the way can really set things up for a good day.”
Whilst Whangamata has been a closely guarded secret for a decade, Whangamata Ocean Dental has no trouble getting experienced locums who want a spell in the thriving coastal town.
“For me it’s more than the location, which hasn’t lost any of its magic in the decade I have been here. It’s the people. I work in the happiest environment I have ever known.”
Choosing between money and lifestyle is a big step. For some, the financial hit that comes with downsizing is too great a sacrifice – something to do later in life as a transition into retirement after putting your best years into the daily grind of rebuilding financial security.
Surprisingly, Whangamata Ocean Dental proved itself as the more lucrative choice. “It’s the most profitable practice I’ve ever had – more so than the 25 years I was in Queen Street – and I’m far happier and freer.”
An hour from Tauranga and just over two hours from Hamilton and Auckland, it remains connected enough with the bigger hubs to provide those who come here seeking a lifestyle to be successful.
The local economy reflects the investment people have made to growing this place in a way that embraces lifestyle choices others only dream about. This thriving community provides a true sense of belonging for those who open their hearts to living here.
5 May 2023
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