Brave Bay toddler Aiden Lints finally arrived home last night - just over three months after a devastating crash threatened his chances of ever walking again.
Aiden came home with his mother Monique and father Grenville after spending just over three months in hospital and being rehabilitated in Auckland.
Saturday was Grenville's birthday. Having his "incredible" boy home and his family back together mean it was a particularly special day.
"Normal life won't be for quite a while, but this is the new normal. It's a start. The biggest thing is we're all together again.
"It's real good, just knowing we don't have to rush back up there, that's the best. It's bloody marvellous," he said.
Aiden suffered a suspected spinal injury and broken leg in the March 9 crash that tore his family apart.
Mr and Mrs Lints, Aiden, 8-month-old Danyon Lints and a 3-year-old family friend were travelling back from a picnic at Whakatane when their four-wheel-drive and a van collided head-on at the intersection of SH2 and SH33 near Paengaroa.
The crash split the family into different parts of the country.
Aiden was rushed to Auckland's Starship Children's Hospital while Mrs Lints was taken to Tauranga Hospital. Danyon was looked after by grandparents and Mr Lints did what he could to spread himself around each family member while working.
Saying goodbye to Aiden was the hardest thing for Mrs Lints.
"Having Aiden taken away from me, not being able to go with him and being told he would never walk again - it was like someone had stuck a knife in me, trying to take my life away. Because my kids are my life.
"That moment my family just got ripped apart."
Mrs Lints created a collage of photos on her hospital wall to motivate her recovery. Doctors expected Mrs Lints to remain in hospital for six weeks. She was discharged after two-and-a-half.
"It was really hard as a mum, not to be there for your kids. They were my inspiration."
By March 22, Mrs Lints and Aiden were reunited and she has been by his bedside since.
Shortly after the crash, Aiden's legs were attached to weights as part of his recovery. In late March, Aiden moved his leg for the first time since the crash. Doctors had originally expected he might never walk again. In April, Aiden was moved into a rehabilitation centre in Takapuna.
He still has no feeling from his ankles to his toes and wears special splints to help him stand and walk but this week he moved his toes for the first time.
Mrs Lints said getting back to the family home was a huge step in family life getting back to normal. The most emotional moment for her, though, had been seeing her little boy walk.
"It's absolutely huge. It's a huge milestone. [But] watching him walk again after they said he'd never walk again, that's my favourite moment of my whole life. That was just amazing."
She said she wanted to track down and personally thank the passersby who stopped to help and reassured her the children were visibly unhurt.
Mr Lint said Aiden had hugs and kisses for everyone who had helped him.
Mrs Lint brought Aiden home last weekend but had to return to Auckland during the week before bringing him home for good last night.
She looked forward to being able to hang washing on her own clothesline and use the family's own kitchen.
It has been a long road to finally get the family home and despite the agony behind the crash and recovery process, Mrs Lints said there have been more positives to come from the crash than she had ever imagined.
"It's brought our whole family together and without realising it, Aiden has affected so many lives and has shown people not to take life for granted because it can be over so quick," she said. "We've got a long way to go yet, but he just amazes me."