By Jodi Bryant
ADOS Addicted to Fishing host Nicky Sinden always knew Auckland wouldn't be her forever home. Besides she had a big new boat and nowhere to park it and, when your life revolves around fishing, that won't do. Mangawhai was calling.
"I've always been in love with Northland," says the 33-year-old. "I've got a lot of friends who live in Mangawhai and I've always got the best vibe there. People there are so warm and welcoming."
She purchased her first house there last year and subsequently adopted Northland as her new home '100 per cent for life'.
Mangawhai reminds her a lot of her childhood backdrop. Despite growing up in Auckland, Nicky spent a great deal of time 'running amok' on the family farm on Motiti Island, off the Bay of Plenty coast.
"You could only get to the island by chartering a small plane or by boat. I come from a huge family - dad is one of ten children and all of us kids would run amok playing spot light, snorkelling, casting lines in the ocean. One of my best childhood memories was a lolly scramble that one of my aunties had organised when she had 20kgs of lollies dropped out of a plane."
Nicky cast her first line, aged three, and, one of three girls, the self-confessed tom boy spent many hours fishing with her father and other family members.
It was in 2010 Nicky auditioned for the role of Matt Watson's ITM Fishing Show apprentice, seeing it as the perfect opportunity to up-skill her fishing prowess and knowledge by learning from one of the best.
She came third out of 2,000 entries in the televised quest and was the last girl standing. Instead, she was invited on a trip around Queensland with the ITM Fishing Show where they filmed another five episodes and she received subsequent requests from parents to teach their girls to fish before it was suggested to Nicky that she make her own show. A couple of years later, she got over the self-doubt and took the plunge.
She left her sales and marketing job, sold her car and boat to put the money into the business and went about seeking sponsorship, calling upon some of her former contacts and cold-calling more than 500 businesses. She sought a film crew, set up her own company and website and has never looked back.
However, it has not been easy.
"It is one of the best things I have done but I often think 'Gosh, if only the world knew what happened just before we shot that'. Over the years we've really refined it down and we're in a good place now."
Now filming its fifth series, Prime TV's ADOS Addicted to Fishing follows Nicky in her Game King Extreme 795 boat Game On in her fishing adventures with kiwi locals, sharing tips, tricks and techniques while show casing stunning New Zealand scenery.
"It's now five years on and the show has really evolved and I've learnt so much that I'm able to host the show on my own, as well as featuring interesting locals or taking the girls out for a fish while catching a marlin.
"The show gives me the access to do what I'm really passionate about, which is be on the water and fish with like-minded people who are just as passionate about fishing. Each day on the water we see something different – there are no two days the same.
"And it's not all about reaching your bag limit. The shape of New Zealand provides us with so much coastline there's different fish to catch in different months of the year and it's definitely very special to New Zealand."
Nicky, who is the only female in Australasia to host her own fishing show, says she is definitely a little more biased towards Northland.
"The further north you go, the better the fishing is but, in saying that, we still go the length of the country," says Nicky, who is a member of the Ahipara Game Fishing Club.
"Northland reminds me a lot of Motiti, where you're growing up running round in summer in bare feet. We have a local boy here in Mangawhai, whose family own the camp ground and, every day, he runs down in his bare feet, jumps on board and inspects the chilly bin. He asks a million questions and that's just cool to see. Later in life, when my partner and I have children, hopefully that will be our kids."
Despite previously finding that guys were intimidated by her, Nicky met fellow Aucklander and keen fisherman Matt, unaware of who she was. They now live in Mangawhai together with their 'fussiest cat in the world' Miso, who, coincidentally, doesn't like fish, and plan to tie the knot at Whangarei Heads in March.
"I'm really happy where I'm at in my life. 2017 has been an absolute cracker of a year – some really good things have happened. First, I got engaged to the love of my life, then I landed a 361kg broadbill swordfish, which I caught in Northland on my own 7.9m boat, and then I became a qualified skipper."
She may be breaking world records (the last world record for biggest swordfish was made 64 years ago) in a field previously thought of as more a man's domain, but Nicky is just as happy in a dress as she is in her gum boots.
"My motto is: 'Paint your finger nails, gut a fish, give anything a go'."
In fact, after this interview, she is off to the hairdressers, followed by a wedding dress fitting, before she sets off on a nine-day televised roadie, incorporating a 45-minute guest-speaking stint at the start and culminating with attending a prize-giving in the Hokianga as a finalist in the Far North Supreme Sports Awards.
And then she is very much looking forward to returning home to Mangawhai where the fish are plentiful and she is met at the boat ramp by a small, barefoot local boy before divvying out her day's catch to her new and welcoming neighbours.
"As a kid, I really enjoyed getting out of the city life – Motiti Island was calling me. I didn't really enjoy going back to Auckland. I always knew that eventually my forever home would not be in Auckland.
"I absolutely love it here and feel really blessed."