Go down to Bucklands Beach any morning and you’re likely to spot Jack, a determined swimmer being helped into the water by his wife Tanya.
Leaving his walking stick behind, he flops onto his back and begins what is usually up to an hour of daily exercise. “Flap back Jack,” the locals call him.
Jack Hope is an iconic figure in Bucklands Beach, having lived in his own little piece of waterfront paradise for over 50 years. The thing that singles him out as unique amongst all others is his daily swim in the sea. There are few other locals who spend as much time in the water as Jack does, which is something he finds hard to understand.
“It’s such a beautiful place to swim, generally safe and protected,” he says. “I don’t know why more people aren’t using what’s right on their doorstep.”
Jack Hope turns 100 years old on January 28 and there’s no doubt his daily swim has contributed to Jack’s longevity.
The proximity to the beach is an enormous asset; this is why he is almost religious about it, never wanting to miss a day, no matter what the weather. For many years he has swum in the sea without a wetsuit, even throughout the coldest winters.
“Being able to get home quickly for a hot shower after is the great thing about living here,” Mr Hope says.
These days, when the NZ winter threatens his hydrotherapy, Jack and Tanya fly to Koh Samui in Thailand, where the water is as warm as a tepid bath. There is no stopping this incredible centenarian.