She may have made a shock exit from X Factor New Zealand, but Waihi's Sarah Spicer is still a winner.

To the surprise of many, after last week's public vote, Sarah was one of the two contestants who had to perform on the elimination show.

It would be her final performance with votes in the end determining it would be Brendon Thomas and the Vibes, not Sarah, who would continue in the competition.

"It was a shock to everybody," she says.

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"No-one really knew what to say. They set you up with a counsellor and I had a bit of counselling, but I just ended up just having a glass of wine and having a bit of a laugh."

There was no softening the blow.

"Nobody (knew) - the judges were all in shock, no-one knew what to say but it was kind of good to go that way, I think."

It's going to be really hard for some of those kids. The more you invest in it, the more emotional turmoil is happening inside your body - the longer they do that the further they get from reality. I'm fortunate that I have a career and the experience to fall back on, but it's their dream - I hope they are going to be OK.

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Contacts, experience, coping with pressure - they are all positives that have come out of Sarah's X Factor adventure.

"I've got a plan moving forward and I'm free to do what I want, which is how I've always been, so actually in a way I've won."

One of the "overs" - the older competitors - and an experienced recording and performing artist, she thinks she has been able to cope with her exit better than others on the show might.

"It's going to be really hard for some of those kids.

The more you invest in it, the more emotional turmoil is happening inside your body - the longer they do that the further they get from reality.

"I'm fortunate that I have a career and the experience to fall back on, but it's their dream - I hope they are going to be OK."

One thing she is certain about is that she won't give X Factor another go.

"I got to the top 12, which is an amazing feat in itself, and I wasn't out to win it - it would have been great - but that comes with it's own dilemmas as well - I think they want someone they can mould - somebody young."

Sarah's aim at the start was to do her best and see where it took her.

"Sitting in Thailand I was thinking, 'wow, this is pretty big'."

When she was chosen as one of the top 12, Sarah began to think there was a chance she could win.

But it wasn't to be.

"To be able to sing live and be under that kind of pressure, that's the kind of experience I wanted because I try to push myself as an artist to get those kinds of experiences.

I like to challenge myself with that high stress, to see if I can actually cope with it, and I proved to myself that I could."

What happens next, she says, is crucial.

"I am going to be a support act for a couple of people, but I can't say who that is.

I think I've earned the right to play in front of big audiences which is really exciting. I want to promote my music and do it on a bigger scale, and now I've got the contacts to do that.

"That's only going to help my career and I couldn't have bought that kind of exposure.

'I did what I had to do. I don't regret any of the performances - the only regret is that I didn't sing an original.

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A lot of people know who I am, a lot of people think it was unjust the way that I went, which is a good thing, so a lot of people probably want to hear more."

Sarah will be re-releasing her album Colours on iTunes, has made one video and is working on another.

She was only able to perform covers during the shows.

"'I did what I had to do. I don't regret any of the performances - the only regret is that I didn't sing an original. Doing the Etta James song (At Last) was another dream of mine anyway and Summertime was more down my ally - that was the one I got to arrange.

"I would have done I See Fire by Ed Sheeran (this week) which I am absolutely gutted I didn't get to do because it was sounding absolutely amazing."

But there is also an element of coming back down to earth. Sarah is back with her children, who she has missed and she says keep her grounded, and is proud to have represented Waihi.

"I want to put a shout out to thank people for voting for me and digging deep - it really helped me continue as far as I got.

"I'm also back running my (holiday) accommodation. It keeps me sane because I'm cleaning toilets, then I'm on stage - it's real life."