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Terrance McKenzie is 90 years old, but good luck getting him to stop riding his bike.

Although he now rides for pleasure, the former triathlete was the world duathlon champion in his age group, as well as the New Zealand champion at age 87.

Originally from South Africa, McKenzie ran three separate farms and eventually relocated to New Zealand to join his family.

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So what's his secret to a healthy life? A good diet, stay away from cigarettes and alcohol and most important of all ... exercise.

McKenzie celebrated his 90th birthday this week and will be celebrating 25 years in New Zealand this Sunday.

Although he's relaxed slightly on exercise these days, he still tries to get out every second day and does the 11km cycling track around Waipukurau.

He chose to treat himself on his birthday by riding from Clive to Napier and earlier in April he rode 44km of The Big Easy, one of Hawke's Bay's most popular annual cycling events.

Terrance McKenzie wins gold at the World Duathlon Championships. Photo / Supplied
Terrance McKenzie wins gold at the World Duathlon Championships. Photo / Supplied

In 1955 he came third in the 1000m sprint at the national championships and represented South Africa in the world duathlon championships in 1996 and 1997.

"I've always had a bike, ever since I was a little boy. It was only when I left school I started competing in cycle races, mostly on the track."

In 1987 McKenzie competed in three Ironman events.

"It was different back then to how it is now - we had to kayak instead of swim. I started taking part in duathlons when I was in South Africa where I represented my age group and when I came to New Zealand I represented the country at the world championships for the age group between 85 and 89."

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McKenzie said one of the biggest factors to staying health was avoiding alcohol.

"If you drink alcohol all the time, your entire face changes. Alcohol is a toxin, people don't realise how toxic it is.

"It's also important to maintain a healthy diet, but in moderation. It's important to stay away from processed foods and have a balanced diet. As important as exercise is, it's important not to overdo it either. It can affect your immunity and damage your body."

It's never too late to start exercise and McKenzie said although everyone procrastinates, it's important to set goals for motivation.

"Just don't put it off, make sure you get everything done in your day so there's absolutely no excuse. Sign up to something you've never done before, like a class or a half marathon so it gives you a reason to exercise."