Chriss Taylor has a 1400km round trip to get to work, but he wouldn't have it any other way.
For the past five years the 63-year-old has travelled from his Rotorua home to his job as a machine operator driving a grader in the Stockton coal mine, north of Westport in the South Island.
Every second week he catches a bus to Wellington then the ferry to Picton where he picks up his ute. He then drives to Westport, where he stays in a $15 per night old nurses' home. Sometimes he rides his single-cylinder motorcycle the entire way, sleeping on the ferry.
You might think it would be easier just to move there, but Mr Taylor has never given that a thought. "Nah, Rotorua's home. I love it here."
He's used to the lifestyle, having done stints teaching in the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu - he also taught the long-term unemployed in Rotorua before taking up the Stockton job.
Mr Taylor works seven days on, seven days off, doing 12-hour shifts for $31 an hour. He said he would get only $22 per hour in Rotorua.
"Working six months of the year I make a lot more money than I would up here," he said. "The money's good, the conditions are good, they look after you."
His story is not uncommon at the mine, with workers travelling from as far away as Whangarei.
It's not just the money. The Solid Energy-owned mine is one of the toughest open-cast mines around, which makes for challenging work.
"It's a neat job. We're up on a mountain 800m in the air in the fog and rain. It's extreme operating conditions."
But with state-owned Solid Energy in serious financial trouble and several workers already laid off, the future of the mine is in doubt and Mr Taylor said morale was low. "It's pretty depressing. We will find out next month what's going on," he said. "Rumours are rife."
He said many of his colleagues were shifting to Australia where they can earn more than $120,000 in the mines and be flown in and out. He admits he has been tempted to join them, but ultimately he's happy here.
"This is a good country to live in ... it's all right here."
One of the best things about his job is the lifestyle. In his seven days off he sometimes stays in Westport - "it's a neat place with no traffic lights" - heading up into the bush to look for rocks and minerals.
When he's back in Rotorua he volunteers at Te Amorangi Museum, which he's done for more than 30 years, working at the forge and passing his blacksmith skills on to others. His shed resembles a museum itself, not surprising considering he was one of the founders of the old Settlers Museum in Rotorua and the Rotorua Antique Bottle Collectors Club.
There is no shortage of projects to keep him busy - although some, like the bus on the front lawn he's had for 17 years, appear to be more long term.
He still has the itch to travel and hopes to volunteer abroad when he retires. In the meantime he's off to the United States in April to search for rocks while wife Jennie happily stays home with their menagerie of 12 animals.
"I'm a home person, he loves to travel," she said. "It's his choice."
A 9am to 5pm office job may suit some, but not Mr Taylor, who would rather get out and see the world.
"That's what life is," he said. "There's so many things I want to do and I'm running out of time."
Yet no matter where he goes, it's safe to say he will always return home, to Rotorua.