Matthew Theunissen

Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Kiwis pumped for Aussie 'Race' win

Team NZ, of the Amazing Race persuasion, is competing in the first bi-country challenge.
Team NZ, of the Amazing Race persuasion, is competing in the first bi-country challenge.

Ten New Zealanders are racing Australians around the world in a bid to win $250,000 and reality TV stardom.

The Amazing Race pits five New Zealand teams of two head-to-head with their Australian counterparts through six continents and 10 countries, across almost 90,000km.

It is the first time the popular reality TV show has pitted two countries against each other.

The Amazing Race Australia v New Zealand will be hosted by Outrageous Fortune star Grant Bowler and will air on TV2 later this month.

The Kiwi teams include Tauranga friends Hereni Fulton and Carla Beazley, Christchurch siblings Emily and Jono Trenberth, friends John Gbenda-Charles and Murray Roeske, and friends Christie Orr and Aston Garratt.

Hamilton couple Jesse and Cat O'Brien decided to enter because they were big fans of the show.

"We've always sat there with our kids going, 'Man, how cool would that be? We could totally do that'," Jesse said.

"When we saw the ad on TV asking for contestants, we thought we'd better back up our words."

It's not the first time the 36-year-old has been in the spotlight.

He has twice been a contestant on NZ Idol, coming in fourth spot in 2005 after withdrawing from the 2003 competition to be at the birth of his daughter.

"I love TV," he admitted. "I love watching it and I do quite like the attention."

Cat needed a little more persuading.

"I had to put the TV part behind me and think about all the amazing opportunities - the travel, getting to meet new people, getting to travel with no kids, that's always fun," she said.

Jesse said he was "extremely loud and love[s] to be the centre of attention", whereas Cat described herself as "more behind-the-scenes".

"We work great as a couple," she said. "We're pretty much chalk and cheese so I knew early on that people would probably want to see that on TV."

The New Zealanders can join forces to take down the Aussies but only one couple can claim the $250,000.

For each leg, the last team to finish faces the prospect of elimination. The team that finishes the final leg first wins the competition.

- Herald on Sunday

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