Until recently Taumarunui was a town on life support, the fallout out from the devastating Ruapehu eruption still crippling the local economy two decades on.
New broke yesterday that it appears no one wants to earn a $150,000 salary for running a King Country adventure park.
The role at Forgotten World Adventures, based in Taumarunui, has been advertised since at least July but is still up for grabs.
The advertisement is for a general manager who would receive an "Auckland salary" of over $150,000 for the "right" candidate.
Ruapehu District mayor Don Cameron is fiercely protective of Taumarunui, saying the central North Island rural service centre has battled back from tough times - and a new wave of excitement is finally rippling across the whole community.
While the volcanic activity was over by 1996 the loss of business over two successive winter seasons proved too much for many in the town who walked away.
But Cameron is praising an unlikely saviour - an economist who published a book in 2014 calling on provincial zombie towns to close.
"The best thing that happened was when Shamubeel Eaqub came out with the zombie town statement," said Cameron.
Rather than fold and put up the shut sign it stirred councils into action galvanising the region in a new direction that was now seeing a remarkable comeback.
"Now there's a real buzz in the town," said Cameron.
"It's going to develop into a really lovely looking region."
He said Taumarunui was on the cusp of something big as houses were increasingly snapped up by Aucklanders and those in the Waikato looking for a holiday bolthole and change in lifestyle.
A three-bedroom house in the town can be snapped up for less than $150,000.
Interest was also growing by young people keen to set up business now high speed internet coverage had rolled out across the region.
He said while river-based environmental tourism was starting to take off those living in the once-depressed community were finally on board revitalising community hubs such as the local sports domain and information centre.
"It's changing the people's perception of their own town," said Cameron.
Studies were underway to expand regional tourism projects under the new Government's Regional Development Fund with a focus on bringing more international visitors into the area.
Cameron said since word spread yesterday about difficulty filling the $150k top job at Taumarunui-based Forgotten World Adventures the company had been inundated with applications.