Award winning musician finds home and business opportunities on the Coast

New Zealand pop and country artist Jody Direen has found a home and new business opportunities on the West Coast.

Growing up in Wānaka, the West Coast was always within reach.

“Even as a young girl, I remember feeling - this place is different and wild, in a magic way. the energy hits different,” she recalled.

She returned to visit many times, after a visit when she was 21, she remembered feeling free and relaxed on the West Coast. “Away from the noise, the pressure of what was a building music career at that stage.”

“I love the local culture, a real sense of community which I felt Wanaka was losing. Visiting the Coast always felt like a good reset for the soul.”

When Jody was really to settle down after a whirl wind career of touring, writing, releasing music and plenty of international travel the West Coast began to jump to mind.

“I truly believe this place was always meant to be part of my journey, My now partner, was residing in Franz Josef Glacier when I met him and he took me deeper into the West Coast backyard and showed me around, not just the ‘known’ spots but the huge array of local secret spots that just blew my mind. There is so much more than meets the eye! Everything felt right, it was a big yes so I took the leap and moved to Franz Josef Glacier and haven’t looked back.”

Upon moving Jody was pleasantly surprised, "I quickly realized that the West Coast has style, pioneers, great food/cafe culture, entrepreneurs, incredible creatives, young energetic supportive communities, so much opportunity, thriving industries, some of the most bad-ass, down to earth people I have ever met and one of the most gorgeous and diverse natural playgrounds in New Zealand or the world."

“Oh, and contrary to popular belief great weather,” she adds.

Embracing the entrepreneurial spirit of the Coast, Jody has immersed herself in a variety of ventures, including, digital marketing, and e-commerce. "On top of other projects my partner and I have built up two successful ecommerce businesses: Packraft New Zealand and Panorama Saunas from our home base in Franz Josef Glacier.”

Sauna (Jody and her partner’s new business, Panarama Saunas, is selling wood-fired barrel saunas)

But it's not all about work for Jody. She also enjoys the endless hikes and backcountry there is to explore on the West Coast. Her other favourite things to do include horse riding, sunsets at the beach and swimming in the lakes and rivers. Jody also says “I love a trip to Hoki and treating myself to a spa treatment. We are so lucky to have incredible spa and remedial therapists! We also have great cafes, bars and restaurants all down the Coast.”

Asked about her favourite thing about living on the Coast, Jody finds it hard to narrow it down. "Can I go for top 3?" she quips. “It is achievable for anyone to own property here in epic locations with mountain/ocean views. Jump on it while you still can.”

Jody points out the advantages the West Coast offers for people doing business, highlighting its lower living costs compared to other places in New Zealand. This affordability enables individuals to take more risks and invest more in their businesses. Additionally, the presence of untapped markets offers opportunities for building one's dream lifestyle and business quicker with less debt.

She also praises the supportive communities “who get behind new ideas - as long as you deliver a quality product/service where there is demand you won’t go wrong if you’re looking to service locally.”

“The West Coast is actually not isolated, can we break that stigma?” she adds. “It’s a 3.5 hour drive to Wanaka and Hokitika is three hours to Christchurch or a 20 min flight with Air New Zealand. People in the cities sometimes drive two hours a day for work commutes.”

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