She's been an icon of New Zealand dancing and one of the country's favourite TV stars for years. But Candy Lane is about to make the leap across the Tasman.
"If there is anything we've learned during lockdown, it's that we don't know what's going to happen tomorrow, so we've really got to live for the day," Candy tells the Weekly at her home in Auckland's Mt Eden.
"With my career, I haven't spent as much time with my family as I would have liked to, so there's no time like the present to do that."
For Candy, that means packing up her villa, complete with splashes of whimsy like her leopard-print carpet, and moving to the Gold Coast to be closer to her daughter Jaz and her three-year-old grandson August.
This house on the city's fringe certainly holds a lifetime of memories for Candy. Among the pictures of old Hollywood greats that decorate the walls are pieces of memorabilia from her impressive career, including a wall dedicated to her many Weekly covers, celebrating important milestones throughout the years.
Upstairs, we sit in a room that once served as the nursery when Jaz, now 28, and her son Zak, 25, were born. Looking out across her sunny back garden where her kids used to play, Candy is at once emotional and excited as she tells us about her decision to pack up and move to Australia.
In the end, it all came down to embracing the changes that have swept through her life in the past 12 months.
In July last year, the 61-year-old's world drastically altered when she lost her beloved mum Mary, who lived to the impressive age of 100. The pair shared a close bond, with Candy describing her as, "my toughest critic and my best and proudest supporter".
She lived in the house next door to Candy for almost 20 years after the death of her husband, and Candy's father Keith, in 1999. As her dementia advanced, Candy was the person who cared for Mary, and even when she had to move into a home for some extra support, Candy visited her every single day.
She still gets emotional when she speaks about her mother, but says, "I'm at peace with it because I spent so much time with her and there was nothing left unsaid."
After an intimate family funeral, Candy escaped to the Gold Coast to have a break and visit Jaz, who has lived there since 2016 with her wife Leesha and August.
Pre-Covid, Candy could easily pop over to see them whenever she wanted, but after New Zealand's borders closed at the start of 2020, it was the first and only time that she was able to visit them in the past two years.
With the combination of some much-needed family time and the hot Australian weather, Candy realised that without her mum at home to care for, there was nothing keeping her in Auckland.
"I would see Mum every day and she needed me, so I couldn't really go anywhere. I could only do short trips," she explains.
When Aotearoa's borders unexpectedly closed again during her visit, Candy and fiancé Ricky Hancock, 48, found themselves stuck in Australia, which gave them time to picture what their new Gold Coast life could look like, and confirmed that it was time for a new start.
"I loved getting up in the morning and not shivering. It was just so lovely and warm," enthuses Candy. "Ricky and I drove around and looked at areas we might be interested in living."
And she already has a wish list for her new dream home.
"We want to live looking over the water and we definitely want a pool. I want to be able to have a nice jug of my favourite cocktail and sit outside in the sun while I watch Auggie in the pool," laughs Candy.
Whenever the topic of her adorable grandson is mentioned, Candy lights up. Though she has never pushed her love of dance onto her kids, she is delighted August seems to have inherited her passion.
"He's always boogying around," she tells. "Jaz sends me videos of him dancing around the lounge, so I might take him to a few competitions to watch, and then Ricky and I might be able to train a little champion. They say sometimes it jumps a generation."
No doubt there will be lots of time to work on his moves as Candy has many hours to make up for with her grandson.
"Jaz is a midwife and works different hours, so no doubt she'll have me on nanny duty. I might have to turn all the lights out and hide to get some free time, but I'm so pleased I'll be there for her," Candy jokes.
It has been a difficult few years for Jaz and Leesha. After welcoming August in 2018, they have been trying to give him a sibling, but a multitude of health issues have kept them from their dream.
They have spent thousands of dollars on IVF treatment and suffered four heart-breaking miscarriages. Then, last year, as Leesha went through tests to find out what could be causing the miscarriages, she discovered she had endometriosis and type 1 diabetes.
Jaz has also suffered from endometriosis – a painful disorder where similar tissue found in the uterus grows outside of the uterus – since she was a teenager and was the driving force behind Candy's fundraising efforts on Celebrity Treasure Island last year.
"My daughter's thrilled that she'll have me over there for support now. They're strong women," says Candy. "I think most women are – we roll with the punches."
While she is excited about her new chapter, Candy – who has done everything from running her own dance studio, launching her own line of leisure clothing and becoming head judge on Dancing with the Stars – admits saying goodbye to her home, friends and students in Auckland will be tough.
But Candy feels fortunate she can easily continue her teaching and professional dance work, having won multiple Australian professional dance titles through her career and is highly respected in the Australian dance industry.
Her career has taken her around the world and she now has to start the difficult process of combing through the memorabilia from her life.
"I'm a bit of a hoarder," she admits. "I'm not someone who has one thing on a table. I have 10. And I'm a collector of memories – everything I've got has memories."
Last year's lockdown not only gave Candy the time to start deciding what will make the move to Australia, but she says it gave her extra time with Ricky, who is also a champion ballroom dancer and teacher.
"We didn't mind lockdown because there was so much to do in the house, sorting stuff out, and it was nice to spend some time together because we both work long hours."
As prominent figures in the New Zealand dance world, Ricky and Candy had always been aware of each other, but it wasn't until Ricky came to teach at Candy's studio that they started getting to know each other better.
Though Candy says their relationship started as a slow burn, things turned serious quickly and they were engaged only a year after they started dating.
Candy struggles to remember just how long they have been together and is shocked when Ricky tells her they've been engaged for five years. She is adamant it's only three, but the Weekly cover proudly hanging in their foyer agrees with Ricky.
"Well, there you go," she laughs. "Time flies when you're having fun!"