A trip to Poland to watch last year's world championships was the clincher in Juliette Haigh's mind: she wanted back into New Zealand's elite rowing squad.

Haigh took a year off after finishing fifth in her second Olympic coxless pair final with Nicky Coles in Beijing in 2008.

She pottered about in London, working a normal job and doing a bit of rowing to keep her hand in. When she went to Poznan for those worlds, it clarified something for her.

Any thoughts she may have harboured of stepping away for good were done away with.

"That made me certain I wanted to come home and row for New Zealand," she said, with the gold medal from Saturday's final draped round her neck.

She and Rebecca Scown dominated the field and won comfortably in 7min 17.12s, 3.7s ahead of Britain with the United States third.

It was Haigh's second world gold, after 2005 with Coles, and Scown's first to follow a bronze last year.

"Having rowed for New Zealand previously I also knew if I was going to come back I wanted to make my mark, would use what I've learned and try and move that little bit forward," Haigh, 28 and a year older than her crewmate, said.

She believes having rowed a previous Olympic cycle - from 2004 to 2008 - was an advantage and drew a distinction between her two world crowns. "With my first obviously I was quite young," she said.

"We had won two World Cups that year but had a lot of injuries. We didn't expect it but were very determined and trained very hard that year. This time round, I felt more confident and we've got a good combination of friendship and fun and hard work. We really have a very similar mentality."

Now she wants a third Olympic final in London in 2012, and a better result than sixth and fifth.

Scown, who sat in the stroke seat, had five weeks out of the boat with tendonitis in a forearm after the elite squad returned from Europe in July.

When the injury got infected after the operation she had a week sitting on a bed in Waikato hospital. Things were pretty twitchy round that time. "It was a bit nerve racking but we both kept focused, kept cross training and in hindsight that may have been a good thing in keeping us fresh," Scown, cousin of former Olympic single sculling finalist Sonia Waddell, said.

Haigh ousted Emma Jane Feathery from the boat this year and clearly the combination gelled. They won both World Cups and this was the ideal way to round off the year.

"I'd love for us to stay together. That would be really cool, but it's in the selectors' hands," Haigh said.

That might be one of the more straightforward jobs for the selectors when next year comes round.

Emma Twigg won the bronze medal in a tough women's single scull final, with a strong finish, but there was no stopping little Swede Frida Svensson, who dictated terms from the start.

Svensson won in 7:47.61, holding off six-time champion Ekaterina Karsten by just .18s, with Twigg a further 1.85s back.

"I have always been told I am too small to row the single. Finally I've proved everybody wrong," Svensson said.