The Johansen family from Copenhagen in Denmark are relishing their time in New Zealand and are living in Hunterville until next month.

Dad Kasper , mum Tineisha and sons Tobias, 10, and Simon, turning 8 this week, left Denmark in January to experience a new culture for a year.

The family chose New Zealand because it was a safe country which was integral when travelling with two small boys, Mr Johansen said.

"Living in Europe, we are well aware of terrorist threats, refugees seeking shelter, and crowded cities. Denmark is pretty safe but we wanted to take our boys now they are old enough to see another part of the world. Tineisha and I had backpacked around New Zealand in the 1990s and fallen in love with the country and people."


The boys also needed to be in a country where English was the main language because they both speak and and understand English.

Mr Johansen, who is a deputy school principal, and Mrs Johansen, a nursery school teacher, both have 12 months leave from their jobs, having discussed of overseas travel for the past two years, he said.

"It has been a hot topic of conversation in our house. Really, we just had to make the decision and leave ... sounds easy, but it wasn't."

Once their leaves of absence were approved last September "we knew it was now or never".

It was a house-sit that brought them to the country town of Hunterville, he said.

"We just loved it so much here, we wanted to stay on."

He contacted principal Stephen Lewis at Hunterville School to ask whether his sons could attend the school for a while.

"I told him I was a teacher and real language nerd. I volunteered to take French classes for students who were interested if he could help us out."

Within a week, the Johansen family were moved into the school house.

"It had no furniture, nothing, and we only had our clothes but so quickly the local people were arriving at the house bringing us furniture beds, bedding, everything you possibly need. One woman even told us we couldn't possibly be without a TV set and, even though we said we could, she organised a TV set and a Freeview box ... it was all so amazing. Where we we come from you're lucky if your neighbours speak to you."

Kasper will teach French four times a week, for one hour over the next three weeks. Already, 50 students have signed up for the classes.

Although he has been accepted by the Education Ministry to take a teaching job in New Zealand, there are problems with his visa.

"It just takes so long to get everything organised."

But so far the fantastic summer and autumn weather and beautiful country has kept the family in high spirits, he said.

"Tobias has made so many friends here and has already had sleepovers during the holidays."

To be able to stay in New Zealand until January 2107 would be idyllic, he said.