Former Bachelor Zac Franich and Erin Simpson open up about their whirlwind romance

After a quick courtship, the pair are ready to take the next step in their relationship. “I just feel like the little girl who has found her Prince Charming,” says loved-up Erin.

As they hold hands next to a glistening turquoise swimming pool, there’s no doubt that The Bachelor star Zac Franich and his new TV host girlfriend Erin Simpson are madly, deeply and definitely crazy about each other.

It’s been a whirlwind summer of love for the new couple, but now three months in, it’s getting serious. During an exclusive interview with Woman’s Day at the lavish Te Hihi Estate in Karaka, they confess that they’re ready to take the next step.

“We have decided to move in together,” says Zac, as he beams at Erin. “We haven’t been together that long, but it feels right. It’s been an easy decision as we know how we feel about each other.”

With a smile, Erin adds, “When you know, you know. People used to say that to me and I was like, really? But I totally understand it now. I just feel like the little girl who has found her Prince Charming.”

And if our photo shoot is anything to go by, the smitten pair ooze true regal romance.

“I feel so glam,” laughs Erin as she spins in a gorgeous black-and-white ensemble.

The couple admit that the first buzz of love took them by surprise. After all, in November last year, Zac, 29, had only just called time on his five-month romance with his Bachelor winner Viarni Bright. And Erin, 35, was also only just single again herself.

“We originally met at a Sky City event, but we were both there with our respective partners,” explains Erin.

“Then we broke up with our partners around the same time and we bumped into each other again. It was just perfect timing. It was like the universe was helping us along.”

Since the beginning of the year, the pair, who had an instant connection, have spent almost every day together in an exciting love bubble. Zac says, “I guess when you meet someone and they’re talking your language, then it makes it easier. It’s a pretty good platform to start a relationship.”

And Erin agrees, “I don’t like being apart from Zac as nothing makes sense when we are apart. We have just clicked.”

The first few months were spent enjoying the summer, and getting to know each other’s friends and families. They went to gigs, festivals, barbies and beer gardens. “Then it kind of got serious,” laughs former children’s TV host Erin.

The couple had “the chat”, cementing their easy-going relationship into something a little more serious.

Zac confesses, “We were both fresh out of relationships and you have to think, do I want this? But we both decided pretty quick that we definitely didn’t want to let this go. It was too special.”

However, Red Carpet New Zealand star Erin admits they had some boxes to tick off first. Her priority was a sit-down talk with Zac’s ex Viarni, 23, who in November announced the split on Instagram, writing,

“As much as we wanted it to be forever, with heavy hearts we have decided to go our separate ways.”

Erin says, “I had a conversation with her before we even started a relationship and got her blessing. I am not that type of person to just go straight in and I wanted to do that. It was important to me.”

The outcome? The trio are now friends and Zac reveals, “It speaks volumes of how mature Viarni is as a person. We are both like-minded in that respect.”

A few weeks into their romance, they met each other’s parents, with Erin’s mum now having to put her on a “Zac timer”, where she has only 10 minutes to talk about him each day.

“I don’t even come up for air,” she laughs. “I could talk about him all day.”

It’s perhaps no surprise that Zac admits falling in love without the prying eyes of a million viewers is definitely easier. And the first time he told Erin he loved her, it couldn’t have been further from the staged glitz and glam of his time on last year’s The Bachelor.

“We were just sitting there on the couch one Sunday afternoon and I looked at her, and I just said it,” laughs Zac.

“I knew I felt that way and I had been thinking about it that morning, and wondering how I would do it. And then it kind of came out. She had this massive smile and didn’t say anything for a while.”

Holding his hand, Erin explains, “It feels good because I just get Zac so much. I get what makes him happy. I get what makes him angry. I get what makes him laugh. I get what he is feeling. I know what makes him smile.”

And she knows what makes him really happy – supporting him in his work as a life-saving coach. These days, Erin can be found beach-side working her new role as water girl at competitions.

“I am aiming for a clipboard role,” she laughs.

It’s something that made Zac realise she was special. “She’s come to the beach and come to competitions, and that’s me working in my purest form, and she’s wanted to come and see it,” he grins.

“It’s nice to have someone who wants to be a part of that and is supportive. I think it’s important if you are with someone to see how they operate in their professional space as well.”

It isn’t the only reason he is bursting with pride as Zac confesses to a little secret.

“I had a bit of a crush on her when she was on The Erin Simpson Show,” he laughs nervously. “I would have been late teens, but I would see her on her show and be like …”

Laughing, Erin interjects, “Oh, you thought I was fine!” Zac shakes his head with a smile and looks into her eyes.

“I thought you were pretty nice.”

But when it comes to Erin watching Zac on Three’s The Bachelor, she admits she recently saw a few snippets after becoming intrigued.

“Bad idea,” laughs Erin. “I won’t be digging again in the future.”

The pair are now looking at their options for a home. Erin bought a seven-bedroom house in Auckland in 2016, but she has flatmates.

“It’s not really the most romantic set-up, even though he’s kind of an honorary housemate already,” she tells.

And Zac has purchased a new build, also in Auckland, but it won’t be ready until September.

“We’ve decided it’s too long, so we will probably move into our friend’s place. He is away for the whole of winter as he plays basketball down south,” explains Zac.

But most of all, the lovebirds are excited about growing their own art collection and they have been going to endless exhibitions.

“We really bonded over our mutual love of art,” explains Erin, who has her own personally designed collection of homeware.

“We are looking for those perfect pieces to own as a couple.”

But are there any concerns about the big move?

Zac laughs, “There are no alarm bells ringing. I’m just throwing myself in and seeing where we end up, and I’m pretty stoked.”

Erin adds, “He already knows my weird quirks.”

In August, the couple will also be flying away on their first foreign holiday, jetting off to Hawaii for Zac’s close friend’s wedding.

Erin smiles as her beau talks about how amazing it is to have such a beautiful plus one.

She adds, “We were both saying the other day that we are glad we have taken a risk and decided to fall in love again.

“It’s risky, especially when there’s been so much hurt. But it’s good that we didn’t talk ourselves out of it and moving in is really the start of the next big adventure for us.”

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