A friendship and one visit five years ago have convinced German man Thilo Spicher that he wants to live in Whanganui.
He and partner Angela "Alla" van Loo arrived six weeks ago and are staying with friends they met in Australia, Mark and Mary Smith.
Spicher, a hairdresser, has already got a job at Vivo Hair & Beauty in Victoria Ave. Van Loo is looking for full-time work, either in administration or as a legal secretary. As soon as both have jobs they will look for a flat or apartment.
Their journey to Whanganui began in Perth five years ago. They were travelling Australia on working visas and couldn't find a job. Someone they were chatting to said his friend had a job for them - but they would have to be in Derby in three days' time.
The two drove their Mitsubishi van hundreds of kilometres to the small outback town of Derby, near Broome in the north of Western Australia. They had no idea what jobs they would find when they got there.
It turned out the jobs were cleaning and caretaking in a refugee detention centre on a military base. It was an eye-opener, Spicher said. The refugees were from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Sri Lanka.
The new arrivals were given uniforms and got started immediately. Their supervisor was Whanganui man Mark "Smitty" Smith, a former prison officer.
They worked hard and Smith became a close friend. When he had a break and was flown back to Whanganui, Spicher went with him for the visit.
He liked Whanganui, and told Smith he would return. Both went back to the centre and back to work, and Spicher and van Loo had to return to Germany when their visas ran out. But Spicher didn't forget Whanganui.
The two didn't want to stay in Germany and decided to "make a new life" in New Zealand.
They are now on working visas here, and will apply for permanent residence in nine months. As a hairdresser, Spicher's job is sought after. Van Loo is a legal secretary and certified business economist. She is studying social work, and will have her degree in 18 months.
The two say New Zealand is more relaxed than Germany. They are meeting new friends and finding Whanganui people kind and open-minded.