Jane Lawrence and Brian Priest's paths have been almost crossing for years.

The couple, both 75, have experienced coincidence after coincidence in their relationship, which they recently rekindled after 55 years apart.

"Our lives have kind of circled around each other," Jane told the Herald.

The pair both came over to New Zealand from England on ships when they were 17, but on different vessels.

Jane and Brian travelled the North Island together on a scooter back when they were first dating. Photo/supplied
Jane and Brian travelled the North Island together on a scooter back when they were first dating. Photo/supplied

They met at 19 on New Year's Eve in Hawera, South Taranaki, while Brian was working for the Hawera Star.

"They used to close off the High Street in Hawera and have New Year's Eve celebrations there, and we met there," Jane said.

The pair dated for three years and were each other's first loves, but they began to drift apart when Brian went away to university and Jane stayed in Hawera to work.

Over the next 55 years, Jane managed a coffee bar, worked as a shepherd in the back country, and trained to be a teacher, though it didn't last longer than six months.

"If all my pupils had had four legs and fur I would have been fine," she said.

She also worked in farmers trading, writing sale tickets, milked cows, and owned her own cattery and kennels business for 23 years.

She now acts for the Hawera Repertory Society.

Meanwhile, Brian was travelling the world, going everywhere from Mexico to Singapore, to the Himalayas, where he "had a bit of a look around".

Jane said they both would think about each other "quite a bit".

The pair unknowingly crossed paths one day in Vancouver on Lawrence's only overseas trip since she moved to New Zealand.

Brian recognised her and ran back to check, but she had already disappeared. Jane said she would have been too busy "gawking at the buildings" to see him.

They only realised the near miss when Jane contacted Brian on Facebook recently after his profile appeared on a list of people she might know.

"It was just pure chance, you know how they sort of pop random faces up, people you may know."

She sent Brian a message and the couple began emailing each other. It was in one email when Brian said he had seen her "doppelganger" in Vancouver. They compared notes and realised it was not simply a case of mistaken identity.

Jane said it was incredible how "we missed each other by a whisker".

"We sort of just missed and missed and then finally we didn't miss."

They have been together again since January, and Jane said it was "fantastic".

"It's one of those things you keep thinking, 'Is this real?' But, you know, it's great because we just kind of took up where we left off."

Jane said Brian was her "toy boy" as she was "a whole 30 days older than he is".

"Somebody said to me, 'Hey, this is the woman who loves living alone'. I don't know anybody else that I would stop living alone for."

Jane said she and Brian "always had a special something" and were delighted to be back together.

"We try not to think about the 55 years in between."