It's made of nothing but flour, salt and water - and magic, John Wilson says.

He's talking about the long-ferment sourdough bread he and Matt Ellingham are making in the new Whanganui bakery business SourBros.

They've been selling it at the River Traders' market on Saturday mornings, and at The Burrow specialty food store in Taupo Quay. They are looking for other outlets.

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The two bake on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings at Lucky Bar + Kitchen in Wilson St. There's nobody there until 1pm so they have the commercial kitchen to themselves.

The new business is a dream for both of them - Mr Wilson who came to live in Whanganui at Christmas and Mr Ellingham who was brought up here and returned in August last year.

Mr Wilson came with his partner Helen O'Rourke, a music therapist, and 9-year-old daughter Maggie. He wants to buy some land and build a house.

Mr Ellingham came with his wife Karen and children Sam, 5, and Niamh, 2. He had a bakery in mind before he met Mr Wilson, who had been baking for four years.

"John arrived at the right time, and it all happened," he said.

Mr Wilson was attracted to Whanganui by its cheap land and its arts and music scene.

"We would come up from Wellington to go to gigs here, and to the Open Studios," he said.

The Ellinghams were drawn back by the presence of family. Mr Ellingham had spent 20 years away, working for financial institutions in London, Hong Kong and Melbourne.


He said corporate life could be lucrative and enjoyable but it meant commuting and living in busy cities - which was not what they wanted for their children. He's keen to get into the outdoors, and is a member of Whanganui's Land Search and Rescue.

John Wilson (left) and Matt Ellingham bake their sourdough breads at Lucky Bar + Kitchen. Photo/ Stuart Munro Wanganui Chronicle
John Wilson (left) and Matt Ellingham bake their sourdough breads at Lucky Bar + Kitchen. Photo/ Stuart Munro Wanganui Chronicle

Whanganui is more relaxed, the two are finding.

"People have time to talk. It's good. In Wellington people are friendly in general but they're always on their way somewhere," Mr Wilson said.

They've found Whanganui's Chamber of Commerce helpful. It is also helping Mr Ellingham with his other business, drone mapping.

The Saturday market is "brilliant" for their business.

"Everyone wants to stop and have a chat and everyone is really excited and encouraging about what we're doing."

The two hope to eventually offer bread workshops, to give back to the community.