In his quest for romance as the leading man on reality TV show The Bachelor NZ, Jordan Mauger endured more dates with eager candidates than he cares to remember. The nation watched as he waded through 23 potential girlfriends, eventually emerging from the experience still single and more than a little bruised. But in the end, all it took was a trip halfway across the world and a chance encounter with an old friend’s sister that led him to “the one”.
“It’s pretty crazy the way it’s turned out,” he tells as he cosies up on the sofa with his gorgeous girlfriend Gina Middleton by his side. “If it weren’t for The Bachelor, I probably wouldn’t have hopped on that plane and headed off. And then I wouldn’t have met this amazing person. So I guess things happen for a reason.”
Jordan, 33, can hardly contain his excitement as he introduces us to his new lady love. Los Angeles-based Gina – who describes herself as “a little bit Kiwi, a lot Canadian and a California girl too” – has captured Jordan’s heart in a way he never knew possible and the smitten film director can’t believe his luck.
“If Gina had hopped out of the car on that first night of The Bachelor, it would have been a very short series,” laughs Jordan. “My feelings for her are just incomparable to anything else. It’s amazing.”
Gina, 30, was born in Christchurch but left for Canada at age two with her American mum and Kiwi dad. Yet her ties to New Zealand have always been strong – she spent Christmases with her Auckland grandparents as a child and even has a tattoo of a silver fern on her calf. And professional DJ Gina, whose dad now lives permanently in Auckland, laughingly admits that falling in love with a Kiwi boy has always been the dream!
“New Zealand men are so manly,” she says with a grin. “I like how laid-back they are. They don’t take themselves too seriously.”
The couple’s love story begins many years ago, when Jordan became friends with Gina’s brother Douglas, who was spending a year at high school in Christchurch. Over the following years, Jordan often heard about his friend’s “intriguing” sister, who travelled the world and performed as a DJ at amazing events.
Watch Jordan reveal which Bachelorette would make it onto his Christmas card list this year! Story continues below
“I thought she sounded like such a cool person,” he tells. The pair came face to face at Gisborne music festival Rhythm and Vines in 2012, where Gina was DJing, then again two years later when she spent time living in Auckland. While each of them now admits that they harboured a secret crush on the other, it would take another few years for sparks to fly.
After Jordan’s time on The Bachelor earlier this year, where he was subjected to a barrage of criticism for dumping Fleur Verhoeven just hours after the final episode aired, he headed to the US and Canada for some breathing space. When he arranged to stay with his old friend Doug and fiancée Joanne, he was pleasantly surprised to learn Gina and her dad would also be there.
“I was more than a bit stoked,” tells Jordan, who had been following her adventures on Instagram over the years and liked what he saw. And Gina too was an admirer from afar. She’d even heard about his stint on reality TV through Joanne, who avidly watched The Bachelor NZ in Canada.
“Reality TV’s not my thing,” Gina admits, “but I thought ‘Good on him!’ I thought it sounded kind of cool and entertaining.”
Watch Fleur discuss the breakup in the video below. Story continues after the video
And when Jordan walked in the door of her brother’s house in August, her feelings were instant. “I almost fell over when I saw him! I knew he was coming, but when I saw him, it was really incredible. I had such a crush.”
The duo had instant chemistry and Jordan’s two-day stay soon turned into a week. They spent each night sitting up and talking into the early hours of the morning. “We had a pretty special connection, but the fact she’s my mate’s sister was definitely playing on my mind,” Jordan recalls. “I didn’t want to get romantic with my mate’s sister in his house!”
With Joanne playing matchmaker, though, Jordan was persuaded to cancel his planned trip to New York and join the family at a wedding – where sparks finally flew. “I gatecrashed the wedding,” Jordan laughs. “I was this weird Kiwi dude who no-one knew. But it was a great night because of Gina. It’s when we realised it was definitely more than a friendship.”
“Jordan spent an hour twirling me around on the dance floor,” Gina recalls. “We had so much fun together.” With Gina staying on in Canada, Jordan headed to the States before he was due to return to NZ. The lovebirds crossed paths in LA for one unforgettable night before Jordan flew out.
“It was a bit awkward and we were a little bit shy to start with,” tells Gina, “but we had the most amazing final night and day together, and I think both of us were thinking the same thing about our feelings for each other by then. It was pretty hard saying goodbye.”
Before he left, Jordan gifted Gina his beloved pounamu. And while the prospect of a long-distance romance was daunting, when he touched down in Aotearoa, he knew immediately he had to get back to LA. He realised his feelings for Gina were like nothing he’d experienced before.
“We have so many similarities. We are both travellers of the world and creative spirits, and it just felt really horrible being apart.”
Over the next 10 weeks, they talked on the phone every day, sometimes twice a day. And the more they talked, the more their relationship blossomed.
“Every morning when I woke up, I would roll over in bed and check my phone,” Gina tells. “And there was always a really cute message from Jordan. Once he even sang to me in a video message!”
Within weeks, Jordan had already booked flights to return to LA in November, where he’s been staying ever since. They describe their airport reunion as like a scene from a romantic movie.
“We pretty much ran into each other’s arms and there wasn’t a lot of time for talking, that’s for sure,” laughs Jordan, who is fitting his film work around his long-distance love.
The pair are heading off this week to Thailand to spend Christmas together, then they’ll come to NZ. Jordan can’t wait to introduce Gina to his close-knit Christchurch family, who are delighted to see him so happy.
“I thought they’d say, ‘Jordan, you can’t just run off overseas for a girl!’ but they’ve just been so supportive. They can see how happy I’ve been since I met Gina and how serious we are about each other. I know they’re going to love her.”
Gina has a DJ gig lined up at Rhythm and Vines on New Year’s Eve and the couple will then head to the South Island. They’re even keen to host a Mexican fiesta night and market with wares from their travels. After that, they’ve planned out virtually all of 2017 to ensure they’re together.
And as for the future? Jordan smiles, “We talk about running away together and leaving everything behind all the time. We have lots of ideas, but it doesn’t really matter where we end up. I’ll be happy just as long as I’m with Gina.”
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