It's been two months since The Bachelor NZ lovebirds Art Green and Matilda Rice (now Green) tied the knot in a stunning seaside ceremony on Waiheke Island, and the novelty of finally being husband and wife is showing no signs of fading.
"I still get a rush of excitement when I hear Mattie call herself Mrs Green," beams a besotted Art.
"I remember waking up to Mattie the morning after the wedding and feeling so unbelievably happy. We truly didn't expect marriage to feel any different, but lying there as a married couple, it really felt like the first day of the rest of our lives."
When Woman's Day catches up with the loved-up newlyweds, they've recently returned home from their laidback honeymoon – a 10-day camping adventure around the upper North Island.
Equipped with little more than their four-wheel drive Subaru with its cosy rooftop tent, the couple's adventure saw them snorkelling at the Poor Knights Islands off the coast of Tutukaka, sleeping under the stars at a kiwi sanctuary in Kerikeri and soaking up the sights along a string of west coast beaches.
Their Northland hop concluded with a little luxury in the Bay of Islands, where the duo splashed out on a lush resort, complete with a couple's massage and candlelit dinner – a well-deserved treat for Matilda, whose little bundle is due in September.
Watch: Art and Matilda's love story. Article continues after video.
"Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love camping, but New Zealand's windy roads mixed with my persistent morning sickness were not a winning combo," smiles Matilda, 28, who made Art take many sudden pit stops for a "cheeky roadside vom".
She explains, "Everyone kept telling me the morning sickness would stop after I made it through the first trimester, but now I'm 19 weeks along, I've resigned myself to the fact this might just be me for the rest of the pregnancy.
"But there's no complaints from me. It's a small price to pay knowing I'm growing our healthy and happy baby Green. And as far as backdrops go, throwing up with a view of the rugged west coast isn't all that bad!"
The couple's quintessential Kiwi holiday marks the first of many camping adventures for the nature-loving pair, but this particular trip will always hold special significance.
As part of their travels, Art and Matilda organised visits to several local primary schools who participate in Garden to Table, a charity initiative designed to teach kids how to grow, harvest and prepare seasonal food.
As passionate health advocates, it's a cause close to their hearts and the motivation behind their unconventional wedding registry, which asked guests to donate to the grassroots programme in lieu of gifts.
"We're so grateful for all the opportunities we receive in our line of work, so where we have the opportunity, we always try to find ways to give back," tells Matilda.
"Having friends and family come together for our wedding was so special, and we really didn't see the need for material presents, so we linked up with a service called The Good Registry and asked guests to contribute funds to the charity."
Together, the Greens – who co-own Plate Up, a Paleo meal-delivery service – and their guests raised over $4200 for Garden to Table, which will go towards supporting the initiative, as well as purchasing fruit and vegetable gardens for primary schools around the country.
"It's so important to have a healthy relationship with food and know where it comes from, how it's grown and cared for," tells Matilda, who penned a self-help guide to living your happiest, most-fulfilling life in 2017.
"It's something Art and I are learning and bettering every day. The work of Garden to Table is so important to ensure kids are learning all the good stuff from a young age."
"Our kids will be backyard-loving, free-range babies for sure," adds Art, 30.
"We want them to grow up surrounded by nature and as a family, we want to live off the land as best we can. Hopefully, when our little one is ready to go to school, programmes like Garden to Table are part of the curriculum."
Having just announced that they're expecting a baby boy, they're still trying to wrap their heads around the basics of parenthood. For a start, bookworm Matilda's ramped up her nightly reading to include a selection of parenting guides recommended by friends and family.
"I imagine all first-time parents feel the way we do, like they are entering into the complete unknown," says Matilda.
"You're aware of nappies, feeding and sleeping, but then there's all the stuff in between that no-one really talks about. It can definitely feel a little overwhelming at times, but part of the fun is figuring it all out together."
Indeed, Matilda encountered her first parenting conundrum at 17 weeks, when she had to decipher whether the flutter in her tummy was baby kicks or gas!
"I was puzzled to begin with, but when it didn't stop, I knew it was baby Green's first kicks," beams Matilda.
"It was such a special moment for us. I remember Art put his hand on my tummy and we just looked at each other with the biggest grins on our faces!"
Since returning from their honeymoon, the loved-up couple have launched head-first into home renovations in preparation for their little one's arrival. While work fills their days and DIY consumes their nights, Art and Matilda are making a conscious effort to carve out quality time for each other.
"We know when the baby comes, dining out and movie nights will probably be a thing of the past, so we are making a real effort to date each other while we still can," shares Matilda.
"But secretly, Art and I can't wait to become parents. It's always been a dream of ours to start a family and we are so ready to move into the next stage of our relationship."
"Ever since our wedding day, Mattie and I have felt like we are on a constant high," adds Art.
"It's hard to describe how becoming husband and wife feels. It hasn't changed our relationship or how much we love each other, but when I look at Mattie now, I feel something extra-special. We can't wait for the next chapter of Team Green."
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