Even by the standards of New Zealand, which in the 1990s marketed itself as at “the edge of the world,” Haast is remote. The local school has just eight students. The nearest airport is a three-hour drive away, the nearest hospital four. The town rates a 1 out of 9 — the lowest possible score — on the Bortle light pollution scale, putting it on a par with the most uninhabited areas of Alaska, Utah and Wyoming.
Although New Zealand is usually thought of as very rural, that is not the situation for most of its residents. More than 85 percent of people live in cities and towns, with about a third of the population in Auckland, the largest city.
As is the case anywhere, living in remote areas, like Haast, means accepting a life of relative isolation, with poorer access to services. The hollowing out of New Zealand’s international tourism industry because of two years of pandemic border closures has made it even harder to live in these townships, however beautiful the landscape might be.
And so when this job was originally posted, only three people applied for it.
None had the required qualifications (one optional but “preferred” extra included full accreditations for handling kiwi, the national bird), so the deadline was extended. Stuff, a New Zealand news outlet, then picked up the story — the job in paradise that no one wanted — and it went viral internationally.
A subsequent interview with Wayne Costello, a regional spokesman for the Department of Conservation, by Agence France-Presse was reprinted in outlets around the world, including in Austria, Germany, Romania, the United Arab Emirates, South Africa, and India, the department said.