But his Invercargill home called him back across the Tasman and it wasn't long before Stephen made the transition to real estate. Of course, that was after he and wife Jo had travelled the world on the traditional year-long OE, seeing Europe from the windows of a Combi van and learning the cultures of Europe at first hand.
A keen sportsman since he was a small boy, Stephen's completed a number of half-marathons and he recognised a similar appeal in real estate - the chance to train hard to become the best, so he set to with real determination.
He learned his work ethic from his father, an agricultural contractor with a Kiwi can-do attitude who built up a solid business in and around Pine Bush and Waimahaka. A quick learner, Stephen realised the only way to succeed in a close-knit community like Southland was to apply genuine commitment in every aspect of his work. "I've always endeavoured to do the right thing by my clients." he says. The formula paid off, developing many long term business relationships.
By 2002 he was an associate of the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand and his career had propelled him to the highest echelons of the industry in his region. In late 2004 he decided the chance to join a team with a reputation for success through integrity, and to come on board as the company's principal was too good to turn down. "With the extremely efficient, high tech systems in place to assist the running of the office, I'm also still able to do what I enjoy the most, listing and selling property." says Stephen.
The fact the move brought him to Queenstown was important too, especially as it meant uprooting Jo, and their children Brendan, Rachel and Alicia. But the family was more than happy with the decision.
As the company prospered it was a personal long-standing desire of Stephen's to open an Invercargill office with the hoamz name over the door. After all, over half of the Queenstown staff are of Southland origin (along with plenty of hoamz customers), so it made sense to go back to the company's roots. The realisation of this dream and establishment of such a natural link is now in place, and Stephen couldn't be happier!