Auckland ultra-marathon swimmer Jono Ridler made history on the weekend as the first person to swim from Matapōuri Beach to the Poor Knights Islands and back again.
It was a memorable first trip to the islands for the 32-year-old, who completed the 45km feat off the Tutukaka coast in 13 hours and 20 minutes.
But the double-crossing wasn't about etching the DHL Supply Chain project manager's name in the history books.
"If I'm honest, I haven't really focused too much on that," Ridler said. "It's a cool thing, but for me it was more about the challenge itself."
In 1978 Meda McKenzie was the first person to swim from the Poor Knights Islands to Matapōuri Beach, followed in 2018 by Northland Open Water Swimming Association president Sarah Poplar.
And according to locals, just a few weeks ago another two swimmers completed the one-way trip.
Ridler's historical moment began at 5.30am on Sunday, when he slid into the water at Matapōuri Beach.
On hand were his essential support crew made up of seven friends split across two boats - most of whom hailed from the open water swimming community themselves.
"I'm so grateful to the crew who came together to support me ... without them, the swim can't happen."
The first challenge unfolded before he'd officially gotten underway when a wave hit his crew's inflatable boat and the small vessel began to take on water.
"I was sitting there thinking this thing is over before it's even started."
Abandoning the plans would have been a blow to Ridler as he had already had to steer away from his original target of a Cook Strait double-crossing.
"I'd spent so long preparing and training to take up a challenge that would push me beyond my limits and would help me further understand what my potential is."
But a lack of suitable weather between the country's two islands meant Ridler opted to set his sights on Northland instead.
"It was a swim that had interested me and I'd had it in my mind as it hadn't been swum that many times and it's such a fantastic body of water," he said.
Fortunately, one repaired fuse later meant the anticipated swim would still go ahead.
Ridler set off in calm seas with five-knot winds, the water warm even without a wetsuit.
"The only time I wasn't swimming was when I would stop for a food break," he said.
The 15-second breaks every 30 minutes involved a crew member tossing half a banana or an electrolyte gel into the sea for Ridler to refuel.
A water bottle on a string was punted his way to keep him hydrated as his body pushed to new limits on the longest stretch undertaken in his six years of marathon swimming.
"There are specific rules you have to stick to for marathon swimming. You're only allowed to wear a cap and goggles and normal togs.
"You're not allowed to touch the boats or get any assistance whatsoever," he said.
When Ridler reached the Poor Knights, he allowed himself three to four minutes to "enjoy the scenery", play among the fish, and swim into the popular Rikoriko Cave.
He overcame cramps in his triceps that kicked in three hours into the swim, as well as an upset stomach four hours after starting.
"You're dealing with pain in every part of your body from a point but for the most part it was pretty good."
Ridler said the hardest part was the final stretch in the dark.
"I'd been counting down the number of food breaks we had left. The wind was chopping up.
"I asked the crew how much further to go - 6km. When I'm swimming I'm not looking at where I'm going, that can be psychologically destructive," he said.
As he knocked off the last kilometres, Ridler kept his focus on the lights ahead moving on the beach.
"I walked out of the waves and past the water line to mark the end of the swim ... it was all a bit confusing, I couldn't see who was behind the lights, I was dizzy from being horizontal for that period of time and from swimming.
"You're kind of relieved as much as anything," he said.
When asked what was next, Ridler hinted there was a challenge he'd been ruminating on for the past two or three years.
But his first focus, he said, should be on his wedding at the end of the month.
Rest was also top of his list as his training had him swimming 70km to 80km most weeks, six days on one day off. Although he was able to enjoy recovery weeks where he only clocked 20km in the pool.