It's been 12 years since Celebrity Treasure Island last screened in New Zealand. Now, the ultimate celebrity challenge is back with a new cast of survivors. Siena Yates went to Fiji to meet the stars of Celebrity Treasure Island.
Under usual circumstances, Fiji is a dream destination; all clear blue seas, luxury resorts and round the clock mai tais.
But today is far from usual.
Today, bodies are dripping in sweat, the sun is beating down relentlessly and a giant millipede just crawled across someone's back causing minor hysteria.
Small cots are assembled in ramshackle shelters next to an outdoor "shower", totally open to the elements. The single toilet that eight people will share is somewhere down a hidden path, more for hygiene than for privacy.
In a clearing back from the beach, a massive arena has been set up where a handful of Kiwi celebrities are gathered, midriffs and ambitions bared for the first challenge of Celebrity Treasure Island.
The day before, they'd been living it up in a nearby resort, doing press and glamorous promo shoots. Now, they're here, surrounded by tropical jungle with no clue how to get back to civilisation.
Here, they face the first of the island's famed challenges; a physically demanding puzzle on a massive scale. It requires running, flipping heavy boxes taller than some of the celebs themselves, climbing up giant ledges and a whole lot of teamwork - which is a lot to ask a group of strangers who have just been assigned to teams that will become their families for the next few weeks.
This is Treasure Island. Before it was cancelled in 2007, the first iteration of the show had a hugely successful nine-season run that cemented it in New Zealand pop culture. Now it's back, it has a lot to live up to - and so do the celebrities.
Some are stars you'd never expect to see on the island; a self-described introvert and homebody, Ladi6 is taking a leap directly out of her comfort zone. Then there are the luxurious ladies of Instagram, Roseanna Arkle and Lana Van Hout and there's Moses Mackay, the opera-singing superstar of Sol3 Mio, trading in grand halls for a beach shack.
Filming the first challenge of the first episode of the reboot, one celeb feeling the pressure already is Breakfast host Matty McLean, a self-described reality TV nut who has long dreamed of competing on a show like this.
"I've made no secret of why I'm here and perhaps to my detriment. I've talked about it so much, how much I love reality TV and how desperately I want to be on it that . . . I feel like there's only one answer from here and it's that I'm the first one gone," he says laughing.
McLean's competitive nature could also be problematic, having previously landed him in headlines, including one incident in which he and co-host Daniel Faitaua did a Survivor-type challenge in the Breakfast studio and McLean threw a tile across the room when he lost.
Daniel and Matty went head-to-head for this Survivor New Zealand challenge. One of them was a very sore loser.
Daniel and Matty went head-to-head for this Survivor New Zealand challenge. One of them was a very sore loser.Posted by Breakfast on Thursday, 19 April 2018
"That was then - can you imagine what I'm going to be like in a couple of days?" he says, grimacing.
McLean isn't the only person raring for competition. The Hits radio host Sam Wallace has also made headlines with his preparation; having trained intensively for 13 weeks to get in peak physical condition for the competition - and the cameras.
"If you were told that you were going to be on an island where New Zealand is watching, wouldn't you want to get in good shape? Wouldn't you be training like crazy?" he says.
But like McLean, he's quickly realised that he may have shot himself in the foot by being so vocal about his efforts.
"I think what's happened though, is that everyone's going, 'well, he's got his bloody gym body out here' and I think that has made me quite vulnerable. Everyone's like, 'yeah, he's been working pretty hard', so you know, I'll probably be the first to go," he says.
"It's funny, because the producers came along and said, 'So have you done any swimming?' And I was like, 'no'. And then they said, 'Have you done any puzzles? And I was like, nope.' So basically, all of my training that I have done is completely useless."
Not everyone has taken the competition to such extremes and the reasons for each celebrity taking part are varied and often deeply personal.
Olympic gold medallist Eric Murray is there to raise money for Autism NZ, after retiring from rowing in 2017 to devote more time to his family and his son, who has autism.
Meanwhile, Flava radio host and Shortland Street newcomer Athena Angelou puts it simply: "We've got bills to pay, people! Yeah, they're calling me a celebrity, but have you seen my '96 Civic that I ride around in? We're out here like anybody else, just having fun, giving things a go, just for the experience."
And then there's former Bachelor NZ star Lily McManus, who genuinely seems to have turned up just for fun. The only preparation she's done is to Google "how to open a coconut" before promptly failing to find a coconut at the supermarket.
"I got the call and they're like 'will you do it?' and I was like 'yeah, let's do the damn thing', and now I'm here," she says with a shrug.
"It just feels like a big camping trip with all these other TV people that I just met and some fabulous crew - it sounds like a walk in the park. It's like, some beans, some rice, some healthy competition and $100,000 for charity. It's pretty mellow."
She may downplay it, but that charity aspect is key as - much like for Eric Murray - it's personal. McManus recently made headlines for opening up about her hearing impairment for the first time.
"I want to raise awareness . . . because there's a lot of young people now who have hearing losses, and they're not talking about it . . . and then they don't want to get the help they need.
"So I feel like I owe it to pay it forward, because when I was 15 I would've loved to see someone older than me talking about it because it would have made me feel less alone. I also think it's going to give me a lot of drive out there. When it's tough and I don't want to do it anymore and I'm wet and cold and sick of everyone's s***, it'd be nice to just think that it's going toward something special."
Whatever their motivation, when the whistle blows on the first challenge these celebrities move like people possessed. This is an arena where Instagrammers become athletes and athletes can easily get lost, a place where the underdog of the series has his chance to shine and where a 1.5m-tall radio host earns her nickname: "pocket rocket".
As if the bare-minimum living situation wasn't enough of a shock for these celebs, the challenges are clearly set to add a whole new level of grit and anxiety.
The only ones looking forward to it all - aside from sadistic viewers at home - are the hosts. This year's Treasure Island is helmed by ZM radio host and social media sensation Bree Tomasel, and New Zealand's own Survivor host Matt Chisholm.
For Tomasel, it's one hell of an opportunity to learn from a pro for her first foray into television.
"He's actually a really calming presence for me and I hope I'm a bit of that for him. And it's been really good to have someone to bounce off. I'm not a perfectionist, but I want to do really well and I don't want to let anyone down. So I think that having someone who's been there and done it, to be like, 'this is what's meant to happen', is really great for me and he's been awesome'."
Chisholm may be a pro when it comes to Survivor, but is Treasure Island the same beast? According to him: "Absolutely".
The only difference with them all being celebrities is that they're "super competitive because they are high achievers".
"They've nailed their facet of life at some stage if they're not still nailing it now and so [it's] going to get really competitive . . . and that's where it could go tits up.
"Just because they've been on Shortland Street doesn't mean they know how to be out in the water on a pontoon, you know? The Wiz (rubgy league legend Gary Freeman) might've been superb at tossing the pigskin around 25 years ago, but what's he like climbing a tree in 2019? We've got to find that out don't we?"
What: Celebrity Treasure Island
When: Premieres this Sunday, 7pm on TVNZ 2 and continues Monday and Tuesday at 7.30pm.