A Rotorua man who will celebrate turning 100 tomorrow says it's a milestone he never expected to get to.
George Thomason, who was born in Inglewood, Taranaki, will celebrate at Sudima Hotel with family and friends, including his daughter Lynette Postgate and other family who had travelled from England especially for the occasion.
He said he was looking forward to the party and seeing people he had not seen in a long time.
"I never expected to get to this stage, of course.
"I've outlived (most) of my cousins and relations by a number of years, my brother was five years younger than I was."
Between February 1941 and October 1944, Mr Thomason served New Zealand in North Africa and Italy.
He spent most of his time overseas in the 24th battalion, Mr Thomason said.
He said when he came back, there were so many troops arriving home and nobody was sufficiently trained to fill jobs.
He did a two-year carpentry course through the Rehab Training Scheme in Taranaki, which was to train "chaps" in trades such as building, plumbing and painting.
Mr Thomason had called Rotorua home since 1951, when he moved to the city to be a leading hand for a carpentry school for several years, he said.
He was later offered a job at the Valuation Department, a new department looking for staff, and worked there for 27 years.
Mr Thomason said he had always been an outdoors person, and enjoyed cricket and gardening, having always had a big garden. However, he said the main thing that attracted him to the city was trout fishing as he enjoyed the excitement.
"I think it was the fishing that kept me here (in Rotorua)."