For nearly a month, mysterious Algerian accountant Minou travelled up and down New Zealand, enjoying a haka and hongi in Rotorua, a helicopter ride over the Bay of Plenty, and dolphin- watching in the stunning Milford Sound.
But there was a greater sight that led the 28-year-old to Aotearoa in December. For the first time in a year, Minou was in the arms of his long-distance girlfriend, More FM Radio host Jay-Jay Feeney.
"I was so happy to come to New Zealand because I missed her and love her so much," gushes Minou, ahead of his heartbreaking return home to Algeria. "I was so excited to visit my girlfriend. I think about her every second."
Dubbed her toyboy, Minou met Aucklander Jay-Jay, 45, online two years ago and is choosing not to disclose his last name for privacy.
"People seemed to love watching our relationship because they're like, 'Who's the guy that's got Jay-Jay flustered?'" the besotted radio star giggles. "It's like a soap opera for them!"
When Minou first met his blonde love in the Maldives in 2017, he fell for her blue eyes and infectious personality.
"I was like, 'Wow, those eyes and small mouth and lips,'" he grins. "She is a loving woman and makes me laugh all the time. She is my best woman in the world, next to my mum.
"Our love is free from hypocrisy and lies, and I love her so much, from the bottom of my heart."
When the football fan arrived in New Zealand in late December, he met all of Jay-Jay's friends – including her ex-husband Dominic Harvey.
Jay-Jay laughs, "I was worried, but Dom just pulled out a couple of his classic dad jokes and it was quite relaxed. It's not really a big deal."
The unlikely lovebirds also shared Christmas Day together. "Since Minou's Muslim, he doesn't celebrate Christmas but he was happy to join in the festivities with my family," tells Jay-Jay.
"My mum and brother love him. One of my best friends was the biggest cynic but couldn't believe it, and cried when she met him!"
But there was one family member not so sure about Jay-Jay's new man – Kanye, the pup she shares with Dom. "Kanye's acting very strange around Minou. He's very unsure of him!" she laughs.
During their busy road trip, the couple decided to cut it a week short to spend quality time together.
"We were knackered and only had one week left together," says Jay-Jay. "Time flies so we wanted to chill out on the couch and watch TV. The boring things."
They spent their last day shopping for manuka honey and New Zealand cheeses to go with the many chocolates Minou bought for his mother.
Combined with the new clothes and shoes he'd splashed out on, filling the spare room of Jay-Jay's city apartment, Minou required a spare suitcase.
"It's going to be hard when he's gone, but I'll try and distract myself," says Jay-Jay, gripping Minou's hand.
"We don't know each other well enough to move countries, and that's not even an option because we have our own lives. His family, job and life are in Algeria. And it's not like I'd pack up and move there!"
But she's considering visiting Minou in his home country later this year. "I'll apply for a visa and hopefully get one, but I don't know how long it'll take because his New Zealand one took months," she tells. "It's hard and it sucks."
Minou would love to take Jay-Jay to the desert and declares, "If she wants, we can go. It's far away but we can go by plane, no problem, because it's so amazing. So many tourists love our desert."
While many fans welcomed Minou to Aotearoa and sent messages of support for the pair, there have also been sceptics.
"Online haters say things like Minou only wants a visa and I'm paying for everything, and that I'm too old for him," Jay-Jay confesses. "I've asked him all the same things."
Minou's adamant he's in it for the right reasons. "I only came to New Zealand to visit my girlfriend," he insists.
"If I used her for a visa, I'd stay here, but I'm going back to my home. If we care about those people, it's a waste of time."
Admirers also wanted to know why Minou didn't have a public social media page.
"I was getting so many people messaging asking where they could follow him," says the radio personality, who returned to her More FM afternoon stint last week.
"He started one and it's basically for New Zealand fans." The account quickly racked up over 5000 followers.
A post on Minou's Instagram page is a picture of him kissing Jay-Jay in a field of purple South Island lupins.
The caption below the photo reads, "I am so sad to leave her. But I have enjoyed my time here in New Zealand with her. Please take care of her for me."
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