Being a competitor on the first season of New Zealand Survivor was “harder” than former Timaru man Tom Paterson ever imagined.
From about 8000 applicants, Paterson, 26, was selected for TVNZ’s first series of the long-running American show, filmed in Nicaragua.
The show starts out with two teams of eight competitors in a remote, usually tropical, location and gives them a series of challenges. Each episode someone is voted off until there is only one left.
Now a teacher in Tauranga, Paterson was unable to discuss in any detail how filming of the show went.
*Survivor host missed first born’s birth
*Survivor to be filmed in Nicaragua
“It was just an amazing, gruelling, ridiculous experience, that I think just can’t be grasped by the public,” he said.
“It is much realer (sic) and much harder than what I ever imagined.”
Paterson used meditation to help him cope.
“Just breathing, just self-reflection stuff, was definitely one way.”
He had always been a fan of the original American version of the show, but never thought about being a competitor.
“To be honest it was not something I ever imagined would grace the screens of New Zealand,” he said.
Paterson was surfing the internet when he came across a link searching for applicants.
“I went into the game just with the idea of a massive challenge in my life, being able to really challenge my mental capacity and my physical, just being able to push myself as far as I could go.”
The $100,000 prize money was not really on his mind heading into the experience.
“I would love to say that I had some quirky kind of go and buy a ridiculous amount of dollar mixtures, but it was nothing like that.”
If he won, the prize would be spent on helping out his friends and family, and a bit of travel, he said.
When Paterson touched down in Nicaragua, the first thing that hit him was how “crazy hot” it was, and the humidity.
He hadn’t been there before, but it was on his travel list.
“I was planning to go to Nicaragua at some point to surf.”
If New Zealand was to run a second season, he would advise potential candidates to take a look at themselves and question their mettle.
“To have a look at themselves and say ‘can I mentally take it?’ really, because that was the thing that will catch people out. Physical ability withers away, but the mental stuff, I think.”
Paterson left Timaru Boys’ High School in 2009, before heading to the University of Otago to study.
His grandparents and some of his cousins still live in Timaru.
The first episode will screen on TVNZ2 on Sunday, May 7.