Island life is a world away from the often invisible stresses on the mainland, says Conservation Department ranger Tim Bacon.
He has just completed a three-year residential term looking after the Takapourewa Nature Reserve on Stephens Island in the Marlborough Sounds.
For the first two years it was a job he shared with his partner, Margie Grant.
Then Margie accepted a sole ranger's job on Kapiti Island, leaving Tim on his own at Takapourewa.
The island ranger has three main duties: revegetation, infrastructure maintenance and security.
The latter responsibility is to keep casual visitors away to protect the island's status as a nature reserve.
That is the strongest reserve classification available and during Tim's three years on Takapourewa he would have walked on just 2 per cent of the 150-hectare island.
"I didn't go off the tracks unless I really had to."
Doing so would have risked destroying habitats of the island's varied wildlife.
That includes the world's largest tuatara colony, nest-burrowing fairy prions, and numerous indigenous bird species, geckos, skinks, weta, and the endemic Hamilton's frog.
In an agreement with the island's owners, Ngati Koata, the Conservation Department has stationed residential rangers on the reserve since 1989. That was the year the island's lighthouse was automated, ending a 95-year term of lighthouse-keeper occupation.
Before the marine safety beams started shining in 1894, visitors to the island reported an abundance of wildlife on a forest-covered island. Then trees and bush started to be cleared, making room for buildings and for grazing sheep and cattle.
In 1953 a revegetation programme was launched and a major part of the DOC ranger's work these days is collecting seeds and propagating plants.
Once a year, volunteers arrive on the island for mass plantings.
"People who come are passionate about conservation," Tim says.
If he had his way, every 15-year-old New Zealander would spend at least a week on a nature reserve to see what the world was like before humans called it their own and started destroying it.
Urban friends think he is "nuts", he says.
"They are used to getting water out of the tap, flushing the toilet whenever they want and never really thinking about where it goes."
Tim was born in Wellington but grew up in the Bay of Islands, where much of his early childhood was spent with his grandfather.
When he was a teenager, his grandfather had gone to the Kermadec Islands with his own family, later returning by himself.
"He filled a little boy's adventurous brain with island stories," Tim says.
Inquisitive, Tim eventually went to the Kermadec Islands himself, where he worked as a "weed volunteer" on Raoul Island.
That was followed by time in the Hauraki Gulf, trapping rats on Rangitoto and Motutapu islands.
Tim returned to the North Island this week, with Kapiti Island his first stop to see Margie.
After that, the future is uncertain.
"I would like another caretaker job.
"And I was born lucky. There will be an adventure out there."
- The Marlborough Express