Matty McLean is absolutely fizzing with excitement about having the chance to pit himself against an Olympic gold medallist, a rugby league legend, a Bachelorette and various other famous faces in the rebooted series of Celebrity Treasure Island.
"It is fair to say that this is a dream come true!" exclaims the beloved Breakfast presenter.
"Even talking about it now, it's still surreal that I was able to live out this dream. A lot of people are fans of these kinds of shows, but not everyone gets the opportunity to participate and I've been waiting very patiently for my turn," he says with a grin.
For Matty (32), the experience wasn't just about being involved in a series he watched as a child.
"Growing up, I didn't have the easiest time at school, especially with a lot of the guys, so I think I've always felt this need to prove I'm tough," he says.
"I had a couple of times in the show where I had these amazing opportunities to prove it to the people watching, but mostly to prove it to myself and that was really awesome. I'm really excited to watch it back and relive it because there were a couple of times I thought, 'This is one of the most proud moments I've had in my life.'"
He's quick to admit that his call-up to compete on the series in Fiji didn't happen by chance.
"I've made absolutely no secret about it," he tells. "Because I'm fortunate enough to work at TVNZ, I have the opportunity to get in the ear of a few people at work. So I have been campaigning very hard to be on a show like this for a very long time. You have to verbalise these things to make dreams come true sometimes."
Matty is one of now 14 celebrities (Zac Guildford and Karl Burnett left the show on Monday) vying for a $100,000 prize for their charity – Matty has chosen Rainbow Youth, which provides a number of services for queer and gender diverse youth and their wider communities.
The stars have to battle the elements and survive challenges involving balance, brawn and brains to get their hands on the cash.
Matty, who shed around 5kg during his time in Fiji, confirms that everyone involved is out to win and viewers will be surprised by many of the celebs.
"Sometimes people just look at who's the fittest or buffest in a show like this," says Matty. "But a lot of it is mental strength and it's really hard to estimate who is going to be mentally strong until you see them in the game."
As a huge fan of the show, he started plotting the best path to victory as soon as his competitors were announced.
"I was already thinking, 'Who is my biggest competition? Who might my friends be? Who are the people I can align with even if I don't necessarily like them?'
"I knew people like Sam Wallace and Shannon Ryan would be really strong competitors. Maybe people I could work with, but also ones I'd need to ultimately get rid of if I'm trying to win the thing."
Of course, Matty has extra pressure to perform well since his Breakfast co-host Hayley Holt took out the last series of Celebrity Treasure Island back in 2007.
"John [Campbell], Hayley and Daniel [Faitaua] told me there wouldn't be any point coming back to work unless I win," he laughs.
But Hayley may turn out to be his secret weapon.
"I mean, she's the perfect person to get intel from," he explains. "It was really awesome to pick her brain before I went in there."
Matty isn't the only Breakfast presenter living out his dream, with Daniel leaving to be TVNZ's Europe correspondent.
"I'm heartbroken that Daniel's going," shares Matty.
"We went to broadcasting school together, so I knew him before he had his first son. I'll miss him, but I'm also super-excited for him because this has been a dream come true for him. Having just lived my dream, it's just really exciting to be able to see someone else live theirs!"
And he's confident Daniel's replacement will fit nicely into the Breakfast family.
"It's like musical chairs on the show at the moment!" he says.
"But the great thing is we've set up a really strong base on the show. Our production team is incredible and do much of the grunt work in terms of what you see on air. So it means new people can slot in easily. John has stepped into Jack [Tame's] shoes and done an amazing job, and whoever replaces Daniel will be able to do that as well."
Celebrity Treasure Island airs on Sundays at 7pm and on Mondays and Tuesdays at 7.30pm, on TVNZ 2.*
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