Kate Reed had just returned from her big OE. She needed a job. Sue and Jim Boshier had a vacancy at their business Taupō Mini Golf.
They needed a new staff member. Their family knew Kate's family from previously living at Aria, in the King Country. It was a match made in mini golf heaven.
That was in 1996. A lot has changed since then. Taupō has got busier. Jim sadly passed away two years ago. But Kate is still at Taupō Mini Golf, and on Monday, February 1, she celebrated 25 years.
She's not the only employee with longevity - fellow worker Shelley Calnan has also been there for 14 years.
They share a full time job, doing four days on and three days off and vice versa, an arrangement which suits them both well, although they work longer hours over the busy summer season when the mini golf is open until dusk each evening.
While Kate was originally taken on to do general work at Taupō Mini Golf, she took over as business manager seven years ago when Jim became ill. As well as looking after the bookwork, she greets visitors, answers queries, and helps keeps the course and the gardens looking neat and tidy.
As a family-friendly outdoors activity with a pleasant aspect, the mini golf is at its busiest in school holidays, public holidays and during the ski season when the ski field is closed.
On weekends there are often stag and hen parties, during the week there are sometimes school groups and others enjoying a social activity. Once, there was a proposal, and another time a wedding party came in for their photos.
Kate says days during the summer season are long, with the mini golf open from 9am until 9pm, although if it's a warm day, it's often quiet during the hottest hours.
"You get the busy mornings because they all come in before lunch and they go off to the beach in the afternoon and then dribble in again in the evening."
In the winter, Kate normally shuts up shop at 5.30pm. She says when people come for a game on a winter afternoon she usually warns them that once the sun drops below the hills, the temperature plummets.
She says people realise pretty quickly after sunset that it's too cold to continue, in which case she lets them resume their game again the next day. Rain is the enemy of mini golf, but cold or windy days, especially in summer, are its friends. On fine but cold days, year-round, people look for a family activity for all ages and mini golf fits the bill.
When it's quiet out on the mini golf range, there's still plenty for Kate and Shelley to do.
There are the gardens to maintain and the whole course to keep looking spick and span. Kate says they take real pride in keeping it looking good and often get complimented on how well turned out it is.
Occasionally she turns up to work to an unpleasant surprise - glass bottles thrown over the fence and smashed on the concrete is something she could live without - but says things have improved since the days when the old riverside Taupō Motor Camp was open, when staff would regularly arrive at work to find vomit - or worse - on the course.
Why stay so long? Kate says the answer is simple. The owners are lovely people, she enjoys the flexibility of working part-time and the variety and she loves meeting all the different people who come for a game.
"When it's not busy and you have time to talk to people you can sit out there for ages and I love that, you're not just stuck in here."
Kate also likes that if the course isn't busy she can choose to be outside working or inside tackling the accounts. And on quiet winter days when the course is tidied, the bookwork up to date and there's nobody coming through the gate, she can even read a book.
"There's a lot of variety, it keeps us busy. I don't want to be stuck in an office looking out at the beautiful day."
Working on a mini golf course you'd think Kate would be a mini golf queen but she says she doesn't take it seriously enough.
"I used to practice all the time but I don't play any more. If the family come in, I'll play a round. I used to be good at it but my putting's not as good as it used to be. I used to beat the nieces and nephews but now they beat me."