They went all the way to Nicaragua to participate in New Zealand's first series of Survivor, but two people were kicked off in the first day.

The first local episode of the global franchise tonight featured 16 Kiwis in their bid to win $100,000 by battling it out in the Central American country.

But within hours of arriving, participants were told that by the end of the day, two people would be eliminated, one from each of the two tribe, Hermosa and Mogoton.

Customer service representative Dee, 29, from Auckland was the first to go after being voted out by teammates - after declaring herself a "villain" early on - by a sweeping majority.

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Within hours of New Zealand's first Survivor contestants arriving in Nicaragua they were told that by the end of the day two people would be eliminated. Photo / File
Within hours of New Zealand's first Survivor contestants arriving in Nicaragua they were told that by the end of the day two people would be eliminated. Photo / File

And Whangarei Kindergarten teacher and plus-sized model Hannah Gough was axed by her Mogoton teammates.

But the pair made a surprise return for one last shot at survival.

Redemption Island offers an opportunity for Survivors to duel their way back into the competition.

Tribe members voted out are sent there to live in isolation. The two must then duel in the Redemption Island arena with ex-tribe mates looking on.

"Lose the duel and you are gone for good," host Matt Chisholm said.

Customer service representative Dee Harper, 29, from Auckland was the first to go after being voted out by teammates by a sweeping majority. Photo / Scott McAulay
Customer service representative Dee Harper, 29, from Auckland was the first to go after being voted out by teammates by a sweeping majority. Photo / Scott McAulay

"Win - and you live to fight another duel. Survive your duels, and eventually one of you will get an opportunity to re-enter this game."

In the game's first battle, Dee and Gough had to collect three keys on hoops to unlock three padlocks using only bamboo poles.

The winner was the first through the padlocked gate.

Both women approached the challenge differently, with Dee opting for strategy, while Gough went for speed.

Whangarei Kindergarten teacher and plus-sized model Hannah Gough was axed by her Mogoton teammates. Photo / Scott McAulay
Whangarei Kindergarten teacher and plus-sized model Hannah Gough was axed by her Mogoton teammates. Photo / Scott McAulay

But it was speed that ultimately won, with Gough securing all three keys in the time Dee had only managed to retrieve two.

While Gough was sent back to await her next opponent and her next duel, Dee was sent back to New Zealand.

Before tossing her buff in the fire, Dee had some parting words: "One thing that everyone didn't know is that Survivor is my life... I'm a Survivor Superfan."

The fallen Survivor went on to add: "There is nothing in the last few days that I would do differently. I think that looking back and over thinking and regretting it is just going to drive you bonkers."

More than 8000 people applied for the show, which airs Sundays at 7pm and Mondays at 7.30pm from today.