Many people profess to loving ice cream, but few can claim to have had as lasting a love affair with the treat as Aucklander Colin Haines.

He opened Royal Oak's iconic American-style ice creamery and diner, Ollies, on Valentine's Day 1973, and – 45 years later – his love remains undimmed.

He still daily hands out scoops to ice-cream lovers, with the main change being many customers are now the grandkids of those first going to the store on after-school dates four decades ago.

It's also a love affair that has captured the hearts of his family.

Advertisement

His son Matthew found true love at Ollies after meeting his future wife there when the pair worked at the store together as teenagers.

"It means I can even credit Ollies with giving me grandchildren," Haines said.

He said Ollies continues to appeal to Aucklanders so many years later, not only because people "simply love ice cream", but also because of its sense of nostalgia and deep roots in the community.

Yet, by contrast, its initial success came from being a trendsetter as it rode the new wave of American culture sweeping Auckland in the 1970s.

Haines and his wife had earlier lived in Canada, where they admired American-style diners, before returning to Auckland where he took a job with the Royal Oak KFC restaurant that opened in 1971.

It was the famous fast-food chain's first store in New Zealand and one of its busiest openings anywhere in the world up to that point, according to Haines.

"I know, I was in the kitchen cooking the chicken," he said.

After a stint managing and opening new KFC stores across Auckland, Haines returned to Royal Oak and found a drapery shop for sale a year later.

Advertisement

Forty-five years on, Ollies still runs from the same store and has changed little.

It still stocks Tip Top ice creams, although the number of flavours has grown from 12 to about 30.

People keep telling Haines "don't change the store, keep it as is".

The store's roots in the community are also still strong, with local students even now often finding their first after-school jobs at the store.

Haines talks of one woman who first worked at Ollies in the 1980s as a teenager.

Since then, all five of her children have each worked at the store with her last daughter leaving Ollies in February to start her university studies in Wellington.

Auckland celebrities and sports stars have also been regular visitors, with former Prime Minister Sir John Key being among the more recent, Haines said.

Key dropped into Ollies for a long chat just before he resigned as Prime Minister in December 2016.

"When he resigned two days later, everyone said to me, 'What did you say to him?'" Haines recalled with a laugh.

Yet, unlike Key, Haines has no plans of stepping away, despite now being aged in his 70s.

As a man who still eats ice cream at home, he said his passion for it is as strong as ever.

"We have no intention of doing anything else, we just love it," he said.