Kiwi actress Jodie Rimmer has always seen herself as an unconventional person living in a conventional world.
As someone who craves adventure, she's the first to admit she has a bit of a wild streak. So when the mum-of-two was offered the chance to take part on epic reality show Celebrity Treasure Island, she barely hesitated.
"I was totally shocked that they wanted me, but my first thought was 'Great, what a crazy thing to do!'" she says. "I'm 45, so I knew lots of the others would be younger and fitter than me, but I just decided to go for it and give it my all – and I loved it."
Watch: Jodie's best moments on Celebrity Treasure Island. Article continues below.
While many parents might struggle with the logistics of leaving their kids for the two to three-week stint in Fiji, Jodie knew her darling sons Xavier, nine, and Theo, seven, would be in good hands thanks to her ex husband Tim Riley and mum Jan, who stepped in to pick up the slack.
When she told the boys of her plans to take part in the gruelling contest, they were delighted for her.
"They thought it sounded awesome. It's basically a little boy's dream, so I think they were quite proud of me."
It's 18 months since Jodie separated from entertainment lawyer Tim and throughout that time they've made it their mission to ensure life remains stable for the boys.
She and Tim – who represents filmmakers and musicians at Dominion Law in Auckland – share the boys equally. They hang out as a family as much as possible and even head off on family holidays together. Living just a couple of minutes apart makes life easier too.
"Of course it's not ideal for children when their parents separate, but I am really proud of the way we've handled it. Our entire focus is on our boys and I think they've coped amazingly well."
While she and Tim, 53, worked hard to stay married, they realised in the end they'd be happier apart. Jodie believes their marriage never recovered from the stress of 2012, when she contracted toxoplasmosis while pregnant with Theo.
The parasite, passed on via cat faeces or undercooked meat, can cause birth defects in unborn babies, and Jodie and Tim were devastated.
Fortunately, Theo hasn't shown any ill effects from the parasite, which is still in his system, but Jodie says it's hard to explain just how tough the situation was.
"It was incredibly stressful for our marriage and looking back, that was definitely when our problems began. We tried hard to stay married, but I do think we're happier like this and we believe our children are happy this way too. I guess you never really know if you've done the right thing, but I do feel lighter."
She's incredibly grateful to Tim for being such a wonderful father – he even flew to Fiji with the boys to greet their mum after her gruelling time on the TVNZ 2 show.
Meeting up with family friends, they enjoyed a week-long holiday together, kicking back in the tropical sunshine, with the boys trying snorkelling and catching up on some much-needed mum time. Jodie was touched to find out that Theo had slept snuggled up to her jacket while she was away!
"I knew they would be missing me towards the end and I was so excited to see them and hear all their news," tells Jodie, who says one of the things she missed most was coaching Xavier's soccer team.
"I was desperate to know how they'd got on in their games without me!"
She loves sitting down with the boys to watch each episode of Celebrity Treasure Island, but admits it comes with "excitement and trepidation".
"I don't regret anything I did, but you don't know how the editors are going to cut things or portray things. I get butterflies before each episode."
She laughingly tells us that Xavier and Theo were appalled by her "yum" comment during a challenge, which saw a very hungry Shane Cameron lose his temper.
"They felt very strongly that I should apologise, so I went on group chat and sent out a message saying sorry!"
Jodie is proud of her little men, who love Lego, tree-climbing, hip hop and sport. She admits she's the strict one of the parenting duo.
"It's important children know where the boundaries are," explains Jodie, who has been honest in the past about her battles with depression. "We spend a lot of time as a family talking about feelings. It's tough being a kid – school is tough, friendships can be tough. They're sensitive little things."
Jodie made firm friends with many of her Treasure Island teammates – especially Lily McManus and Shannon Ryan – but she admits it has been confronting seeing herself on screen alongside such statuesque beauties.
"I did feel very vulnerable at times being in my togs, but I just had to throw myself into it. I just have to own it and say, 'This is me!'
"You get thrown together and it's incredibly intense," she adds. "It's a pressure cooker. You're getting attacked by mosquitoes, you're not sleeping properly and you're sure as hell not eating a balanced diet. And all that makes for a very interesting human experiment. It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience!"
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