After sharks, storms and massive swells, a gutsy young kayaker is today expected to complete a mammoth, 5500km paddle around the country.
Tim Taylor's record attempt to become the first person to complete a continuous solo circumnavigation of New Zealand by sea kayak was scuppered by a treacherous patch of water at Cape Reinga in November, but this month the Tauranga 25-year-old picked up his paddles again to finish the job.
Having reached Coromandel just two weeks after resuming his mission from Ninety Mile Beach, Mr Taylor is due in Tauranga this afternoon after paddling the final 80km.
Although he had been forced to abandon his record attempt, he would still soon become the youngest kayaker to have completed the circuit.
The adventure had pitted him against 4m swells off the East Cape and Fiordland coasts and heavy thunderstorms.
Before reaching halfway, he had overcome fierce currents and biting winds, survived several tumbles into heavy swells and kept his cool when a shark nudged his kayak.
Over 52 days of gruelling paddling, Mr Taylor managed to cover an average distance of nearly 50km each day.
Reaching his finishing point - the Wairoa River near Bethlehem - would also fulfil a life-long personal goal, he told the Herald from Tairua yesterday.
"I've wanted to do it ever since I started paddling ... there's not many people who can say they've paddled around their home country."
His run down the Northland coast had been blessed with near-perfect weather and crystal clear waters.
But he wasn't reminded that the journey was almost over until Mayor Island, in the Bay of Plenty, first loomed into view yesterday.
"It's kind of sad that I'm coming to the end of it ... and back to the real world."
Once home, he hopes to start a kayak fishing business - but not before a few celebratory drinks .
Mrs Taylor said her son had done "amazingly well" to finish the journey.
"We are more than pleased he decided to finish what he started - we are all pretty proud of him."