Last November, David Seidel started going out paddling on his surfboard as a way to improve his fitness on days there was no surf.
It's fair to say he achieved that goal, as six months later he found himself paddling across the Cook Strait.
"I live close to the beach and I surf pretty much every day," he said.
"On the flat days, I just decided to do long-distance paddling instead of running to keep fit - I find running a bit boring."
Seidel, who is a relief teacher at Ōmanu Primary School and Mount Intermediate School, started off small, paddling out a few hundred metres at a time on his nine-and-a-half-foot surfboard.
As this became a regular occurrence, the distances grew and he paddled around Rabbit Island from the beach access at the end of Tweed St, then around container ships moored off the Mount Maunganui coastline, and eventually paddled out to Motiti Island.
He began seeking a bigger challenge.
"Then I thought 'why not do the Cook Strait?'"
So he continued to ramp up the distances he was paddling as he built up his endurance and fitness.
Fitness aside, there is a lot to consider when taking on such a challenge, from avoiding ferries to ensuring weather conditions would not be debilitating.
On April 6, the stars aligned and Seidel set off from Cape Terawhiti, the most southwest point of the North Island.
"It was a mixture of emotions," he said.
"I was so excited to do it and to get it done, to be honest. In my head, I had completed it, in a way, and I was just excited to get it out of the way by that point. I knew it would be an amazing experience and I didn't want it to be something that just sat there and never eventuated."
It took 10 hours and 40 minutes for Seidel to complete the journey and set foot on Arapawa Island, at the top of the South Island. He had his support team, good friends Felix Hirling and Luke Mexted, by his side on a support boat the whole way.
There were many times during the paddle that he had to dig deep - a few hours in, he started to realise the enormity of the challenge and that it would take longer than expected.
For about two hours at the end of the morning, currents were against him and he hardly moved from the spot.
"I think I broke through three mental barriers where I basically had to override what my body was urging," Seidel said.
"My body was screaming at me to stop so it was definitely a mind-over-body sort of thing. Once I got through each of those barriers the body behaved as the mind told it to."
He said being able to push through those mental barriers was something he would carry with him for the rest of his life.
"I'm already drawing on that now. It's amazing, mentally, what we're all capable of, and to know even in the hardest times there is a bit of juice left in there - you just have to be able to dig deep and ride it through."
Seidel said when he finally touched land it was "an amazing feeling".
"I was so exhausted but I wasn't even able to sleep very well that night because my body was in so much pain. It probably took about a week to come right.
"I feel pretty proud of myself, to be honest. I set myself the challenge and carried it through.
"I feel most grateful for my friends who supported me through it and were there for me. The support crew and safety crew were amazing, that's the really big take away for me."