Miss Johnston celebrates her 100th birthday today.
She and her two brothers grew up on the family farm not far from the Southland town, Miss Johnston said.
She attended Wyndham Primary School, about 8km away, which was where the neighbouring children went.
"In those days there were no school buses, so we went with a horse and cart. Seldom missed a day at school regardless of weather."
She attended Gore High School and in the winter she stayed at the hostel but the rest of the year she caught the train to school.
"In those days they had goods trains that had one or two carriages at the back and they stopped at all the little sidings."
When she was 16 years old, her mother died and she left school to keep house for her father and brother.
"In those days, wartime, daughters were expected to stay at home and look after their fathers."
She did not have much housekeeping experience at that point.
"They had to put up with my learning how to cook."
Sometimes life did not turn out how a young person imagined it would, Miss Johnston said.
"Circumstances change and you’ve just got to make the best of it."
One opportunity she would have liked to have had was to train for a career.
"In those days it was either teaching or nursing or office work.
"I might not have been any good at any of them. Perhaps I was just meant to be a domestic."
Her secret to living a long life was "I’ve just kept breathing".
She had never aimed to reach the milestone and lived one day at a time.
"You just get up in the morning and do what you have to do and you’re thankful you have good health."
She had always been active and enjoyed good health.
"I’ve been fit enough to work, fit enough to garden. When I was younger I used to play tennis."
Her Christian faith was important to her and she had always loved her garden.
Entertaining others was also important.
"We’ve always had people around."
She was a founding member of the Wyndham Pioneer Lions Club, which was a Lioness Club when it became chartered in 1980.
Miss Johnston will celebrate her birthday with friends and family today.
By Sandy Eggleston