She cooks three meals a day, still grows her own vegetables, drives herself to the shops and has a sherry every night.

But Ranfurly resident Bessie Pearson's longevity is also due to an old adage she was told as a young girl and has followed since then, she says.

"Be a good girl, lead a good life, choose a good husband and make a good wife."

It was old-fashioned advice that, combined with good genes and a healthy dose of determination, had helped her reach her 101st birthday yesterday, Pearson said.


She celebrated by having whitebait for lunch with a dozen or so friends who have been meeting at the Ranfurly Hotel for more than 30 years, and planned on having her usual sherry later in the day.

Friends and family had been phoning and visiting all day and Pearson said she was grateful to have such a full and happy life, and for the support of her neighbours.

"I feel on top of the world."

Bessie Pearson plans to keep living the good life. Photo / Otago Daily Times
Bessie Pearson plans to keep living the good life. Photo / Otago Daily Times

Born in Naseby, Pearson and her late husband, Scott, raised their family while farming at Kyeburn.

She has no issues health-wise, is proud to have once scored a hole-in-one and still drives herself to church on Sundays and to pick up her groceries and prescriptions.

"I drive round the town, and I just know everybody. Everybody waves at me."

Birthday cards from the Queen and former prime minister John Key still grace Pearson's mantelpiece from her 100th birthday last year, when friends brought a cardboard cutout of Prince Charles to her birthday lunch - the future king and Pearson share the same birth date.

Pearson said she loved the close-knit Maniototo community and planned to keep living the good life.

As she pointed to the sky, she said: "He's not ready for me up there just yet."