Not many people get told the town is preparing for their arrival.

But those were the words used by the organisers of the Essential Workers Mega Getaway Prize to winner St John New Zealand paramedic Dan Euinton from Tauranga, whose name was drawn out of a hat to win the all-expenses-paid getaway prize in the Taupō district.

Competition organiser Katie Jolly said all the essential workers nominated were heroes. She said the competition was a way for Taupō, located in the heart of New Zealand, to show heartfelt gratitude for all the work carried out by essential workers while the country was in lockdown.

Dan was nominated for the competition by his wife, Cayla-Fay Euinton, who said the prize would be a perfect getaway break for Dan.

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"Who has done more overtime than I care to count during Covid-19 level 4 lockdown."

In her nomination letter, Cayla-Fay said: "As people became nervous to venture out of their houses, St John staff became busier and busier. Ambulance workers have been quietly doing their job as normal, they haven't asked for praise or any extras. They turn up to work, help our most vulnerable and come home at the end of the day shattered, often having spent their emotional energy helping others who needed them."

Winner of the Essential Workers Mega Getaway Prize in Taupō was St John New Zealand ambulance officer Dan Euinton from Tauranga. Photo / Dan Euinton
Winner of the Essential Workers Mega Getaway Prize in Taupō was St John New Zealand ambulance officer Dan Euinton from Tauranga. Photo / Dan Euinton

Welcomed to Taupō on Thursday by a powhiri led by The Haka Shop's Snow Rameka and attended by about 30 people, Dan said he and Cayla-Faye felt very emotional and it was an honour to be welcomed with a powhiri.

A powhiri was performed for the essential work carried out by paramedic Dan Euinton during Covid-19 lockdown. Photo / Supplied
A powhiri was performed for the essential work carried out by paramedic Dan Euinton during Covid-19 lockdown. Photo / Supplied

Assisted by Hole In One's operation manager, Renee Kiwi, Dan responded to thank the powhiri party and spoke of the importance of family during the Covid-19 lockdown.

In a howling wind, Dan and Cayla-Fay proceeded to Hole in One Golf then took their Ssangyong loan vehicle to dinner, courtesy of traditional fish and chip shop Catch 22.

Taking a swing at Hole in One Golf. Photo / Corbie Films
Taking a swing at Hole in One Golf. Photo / Corbie Films

Home for their Taupō visit was at Waimahana Luxury Lakeside Apartments and Dan said their accommodation was stunning, warm, quiet and luxurious.

"We live in a very, very, very small house so it was luxury to stay at Waimahana," said Dan.

Saying he would normally dismiss going to thermal hot pools, after going to DeBretts Hot Spring Spa Dan is a convert, saying it was really "pretty amazing".

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Next morning the couple enjoyed breakfast at Cozy Corner. Dan said he had the best coffee he has had in ages and loved the food. Then with full bellies, they headed to Beauty on Location where Dan had tight knots massaged out of his back while Cayla-Fay had a facial.

The staff at Chris Jolly Outdoors is another reason Dan says he will be coming back to Taupō. Dan and Cayla-Rose went on a cruise to the rock carvings and had lunch on board.

"There was good conversation. They treated us really well. We chatted about trout and the local history. I am quite keen to come back and do their hunting," said Dan.

Next the couple went on the Taupō Bungy Swing, "a fantastic experience", before a thrilling ride on Rapids Jet. Dan said the cheeky grin from boat driver Shannon was a good clue more fun was in store.

"They took us downstream and pulled up on a beach and pulled out a bottle of champagne."

Unfortunately they ran out of time for a scheduled visit to Huka Prawn Farm but, just as the sun was setting, the couple had their portraits taken by photographer Melissa Harris. Then it was off to the Two Mile Bay Sailing Club for Peroni and pizza.

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On Saturday morning the couple found themselves in a Rafting New Zealand boat, paddling down the Tongariro River.

"We did jump off the cliff, despite there being ice on the rocks!" said Dan.

He also enjoyed learning about Māori mythology and about the mountains.

Capturing the experience on video was Corbie Film's Joel Corbett who accompanied Dan and Cayla-Fay throughout.

Speaking on behalf of the couple, Dan said the prize was an opportunity of a lifetime and he was very thankful for the prize he had won and all the wonderful people they had met.

Speaking with the Taupō & Tūrangi Weekender on Monday, Dan said he was very thankful to all the tourist operators who put on the prize. He said that as an essential worker the pandemic has been scary for him and he wanted to acknowledge that others, including business operators, had also had a hard time.

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Seven other essential workers received a two-night luxury accommodation package including breakfast, donated by members of the Taupō Home Hosts Association.

Runner up Joe Blake (right) with partner Jordyn enjoyed a two night luxury accommodation package courtesy of Taupō Home Hosts Association.
Runner up Joe Blake (right) with partner Jordyn enjoyed a two night luxury accommodation package courtesy of Taupō Home Hosts Association.

Convenor David Bridson said the seven runners-up included a caregiver for troubled youth, nurses, supermarket workers, and fire prevention and logistics personnel.