Survivor NZ: Nicaragua

Survivor New Zealand: Episodes 1-10

Logan Saunders takes you on an Amazing Race through Survivor New Zealand as he recaps the cliffhangers, twists, and recycled challenges.

Survivor New Zealand: Episodes 1-10

Am I the only person in North America who adores Survivor New Zealand?

Well, probably the only Canadian who is bothering to recap it for you folks.





















Redemption Island is used in the Kiwi debut.

Thankfully, the format to Redemption Island is slightly better thus far. Instead of sacrificing one tribal challenge per episode and forcing a couple of players to sit on their butts for 6-9 days at a time, episodes are hyper-extended and add in a reward challenge to inject the season with three challenges per round.

New Zealand is a country of fewer than five million people. It is amazing they could obtain the necessary funding to produce their own season abroad while Canadians are stuck with nothing. We can’t even afford a bunch of strangers living in a house in Canada anymore.

Dee gets voted out of Hermosa after the inexperienced host baits her with the oldest trick in the book.

HOST: Who is willing to be a villain?

Which means you are willing to cross your allies regardless of the trust you have established?

***Dee raises hand in Coach-like manner***

HOST: Oh, by the way, both tribes are going to Tribal Council tonight.

Good luck doing damage control within the next twelve hours and having somebody else who will stick out more than you!  Hopefully spending ten thousand hours listening to podcasts and reading borderline condescending recaps from people who have never played the game will help you out!

Hannah gets voted out of Mogaton after shouting accusations she was fat-shamed by her tribe members. I don’t think Kiwis are fat-shamed on RTV since Cat & Jesse were the second-to-last Kiwi team standing in TAR Australia 3 (and somehow are not related to Mike & Rochelle of TAR 26), and everyone worldwide believes Cat & Jesse are awesome.

I should note Hannah billed herself as a powerlifter. My dad and my brother-in-law have a weightlifting and powerlifting obsession. The first piece of information we learn about powerlifting is that it is not designed for endurance. Just watch the 1990 World’s Strongest Man Final with O.D. Wilson vs. Jon Pall Sigmarrson, and you’ll get what I mean.

Hannah and Dee duke it out on Redemption Island. Dee brags about listening to 24, 761 hours of podcasts, setting up a repeated loop of every international Survivor season as well as Rick Sanchez being tasered on CNN, and reading every Survivor blog on the Internet until her eyes become more bloodshot than that guy from Undergrads who is obsessed with playing Risk.

Right on cue, Dee loses the first duel.


Hermosa, the purple tribe, goes on a one-challenge winning streak which the host and ‘Previously On. . .’ voiceover makes them out to be the next Koror over the next couple episodes. Seriously. After one challenge we are meant to believe they are bigger than Michael Jordan and LeBron James combined.

Mogaton, the orange tribe, votes out older military dude Tony when Shay, New Zealand’s scheming Mormon, flops prior to Tribal Council. Tyson Apostol would be proud. That’s an elite class. After Tribal Council, Izzy and Tom are at the bottom of Mogaton somehow.

Hermosa wins two more challenges. Nate and Barb, the two funny and grumpy older people, are at the bottom. The younger five are all in an alliance together, especially Mike and Georgia who are viewed as being on top (of each other). Jak is labelled as making too many jokes from the sidelines. I don’t identify with that at all. Lee is rocking hair that is -almost- as magnificient as my manbun. Then there’s Shannon–a young woman in the blue bikini who is in the middle of every alliance on Hermosa. If you are worried about forgetting this fact, don’t worry. We will be reminded of this a minimum of thirty times over the next ten episodes. I am not kidding with this number. If anyone wants to review the episodes again to get an exact count, I wouldn’t be surprised if it were higher.

On Mogaton, the middle-aged dude Sala weeps for the second elimination in a row wondering if he voted out the right person. Much like Colonel Guile from Street Fighter or Bruno Ielo from Big Brother Canada, he is a family man. Oh, and it’s his niece’s or daughter’s birthday. I can’t remember which anymore because I was distracted by the cake the women made for him.

At the next duel, only a couple of people from each tribe attend the duel. Tony points and shouts at people who aren’t Shay while pointing and shouting about Shay. The scheming Mormon was wise enough to skip out on attending this duel.

Tony beats Hannah in throwing rocks at tiles. Something only Coach has done before in real life.


Mogaton wins a reward because Sala is a natural athlete. It was the Robb Zbacnik MVP Run With A Net To Catch Balls Fired By Your Teammates Challenge.

Mogaton also has had a lot more food at their camp than Hermosa. This is because Izzy stole the opposing tribe’s food during the opening Shipwrecked scramble (which took place on the beach rather than an actual ship–so Beachwrecked?).

It doesn’t matter since Izzy loses the Tocantins Coach Wade Memorial Challenge for immunity. Man, this is a lot of Dragon Slayer references. Not even 18-year-old Louisa on Mogaton could use her tiny feet and frame to support herself in the challenge.

Izzy and Tom have been friends since day one. It doesn’t matter since they pull the ol’ Mookie vs. Alex Survivor: Fiji strategy to vote each other. Shay and Louisa side with Izzy. Tom has Avi and Sala on his side. Could we be going to a bag of Deb Eatons?

Nope. Shay throws her vote away. You’d think people would be more daring with a rock draw because Redemption Island is in play. The 3-2-1 vote split is in. Luckily, three idols aren’t played to trigger Cirie going home. Izzy goes to Redemption Island.

Izzy defeats Tony at Redemption Island. Unlike American Survivor, nobody can form a winning streak on Redemption Island.

Mogaton is desperate to keep their five tribe members alive, literally because Louisa nearly dies from shivering like Trilby after being released from Svengali’s spell.

Meanwhile, Nate and Barb are still on the bottom at Hermosa. They try to work Shannon and Jak, but it is clear Shannon has no desire to budge. Barb has seemed withdrawn from the experience as Nate scrambles.

An episode ends with Louisa being pulled from camp to receive medical attention. The cliffhanger is unnecessary as she doesn’t come back in the next episode.

After Louisa’s exit, we have an unusual configuration.


Sala (Aligned with Tom and Avi. Has a daughter or a niece. I dunno. I was distracted by the cake they made.)

Shay (Targeting Tom)

Tom (Targeting Shay–Aligned With No One)

Avi (Aligned with Tom and Sala)


Georgia (Lamest edited showmance with Mike)

Mike (Lamest edited showmance with Georgia)

Lee (Aligned With Mike and Georgia)

Jak (Aligned With Mike and Georgia)

Shannon (Aligned With Everyone)

Barb (On the bottom. Old.)

Nate (On the Bottom. Old.)






With eleven players in the game and one person on Redemption Island, we get an unprecedented switch with eleven players. I assume producers were planning to switch when twelve players remained, but Louisa being sooooo dramatic and pretending to die on national television got in the way of everything.

One of the eleven gets the Bruce Kanegai treatment and will head to Redemption Island until after the next Tribal Council. However, the unique thing about this is that the person will spend time with a player who is nearly eliminated from the game.

















SHANNON (Temporarily)

Izzy and Shannon are not shown at all. For shame.


Hermosa loses the immunity challenge. Georgia initially tries to convince Avi and Sala to target an old person. It doesn’t work. Then she tries to convince Nate and Barb to stick with former Hermosa.

Yeah, Georgia goes home. I don’t blame the majority Hermosa alliance for not thinking a switch would happen once it got down to eleven players. How do you prepare for a twist that hasn’t happened in about 40 seasons of English language Survivor?

Georgia eliminates Izzy at Redemption Island. The non-streak continues.

Tom obviously flips to the three former Hermosa dudes. They throw the challenge to protect Shannon on Hermosa, and also for Tom to seek sweet vengeance. The challenge is thrown. Shay is voted out.

Now you are caught up! Georgia and Shay prepare for the final duel.

Georgia cannot form a winning streak as she is one card away from winning the duel before it topples over. Cochran’s erection is gone as the house of cards falls. Shay takes her time to win the duel easily. She returns to the game.

Instead of taking the opportunity to create an interesting experiment by having the player from Redemption Island returning to the game in a tribal format, production merges the two tribes immediately. Sigh.

The buffs are dropped and the two tribes come together in what may very well be the most repetitive string of segments I have ever watched in an episode of Survivor.

When they merge it becomes strategystrategystrategystrategystrategy.

Sala does a Mufasa impression for some reason.

For the first time ever, the host picks the name of the new tribe. What the hell, man? What did you do to earn that right? Not even Probst does that.


CASAR (Named after a director of the TV show 24–I guess he is Kiwi).











Shay, Avi, Nate, Sala, and Barb are an alliance.

        Jak, Mike, Lee, Shannon, and Tom are an alliance.

                Oh wait, Avi might be in the other alliance.

                           Oh, wait, Shannon and Tom might be in the other alliance.

                                   Oh, wait. Yes, they are.

                          Oh, wait. No, they are not.

                                    Yes, they are.

                          No, they are not.

                                  Yes, they are.

                          No, they are not.

Nobody is going to budge. Why are we wasting time on this strategy talk? There is fun to be had. Kiwis are fun, right?

The first challenge after the merge is. . .a reward challenge? Man. Three challenges per round since the opening round? All are classic Survivor US challenges that have a really small build. They have also had two hero challenges. Hey, what else are they going to do with their budget?

The reward is for chocolate cake. For Sala, he can be assured this cake is real.

It should be a disadvantage as chocolate cake after being in the jungle for 18 days eating only rice, beans, and some oysters will surely lead to diarrhea of epic proportions. I would throw this challenge for that reason alone.

The first individual reward is a memory challenge won by Mike. The host says Mike can’t eat that sucker by himself. Me and my dad could, though. Mike picks two of the runner-ups (Shay and Shannon) to eat the cake. They only have five minutes to eat it. This is the biggest twist yet.

Oh, yesterday was Sala’s son’s birthday. Nate wanted to win a cake for Sala. Just take a page out of Louisa and Izzy’s book by making another fake one for him. It did the trick last time.

Jak offers to lick Mike’s teeth. I would love for that to air on TV and see how the casual fans react to that.

Everyone is lying around quietly until Jak starts his air guitar solo. He loves music and movies. Nate says Jak will annoy everyone into voting him out. . .or, you know, become a great goat to take to the end. Nate’s no-nonsense won’t let him do that even if he gets into a position of power, I imagine.

Remember how I said Hermosa didn’t have much food in their camp? Well, producers are making the new tribe live at the old Hermosa camp. Hilarious.

Nate’s no-nonsense is not also no-napping as Nate sleeps while everyone constructs a new shelter around Nate’s snoozing. It might be inconsiderate of the others, but it is also funny to watch.


Mike confirms with Tom that they can vote against Avi. Mike is testing Tom and Jak to vote Avi to ensure he can trust his alliance.

Barb complains about things. So does Nate. Classic old people antics. They are confident Lee or Mike will be ousted as they are on the beach rinsing their dentures in the water. Lee’s vulnerability is contingent upon how many more of Nate’s naps he abruptly interrupts.

We don’t even get an immunity challenge during the 41-minute episode. We need 44 more minutes to figure out who will be voted out next.

Maybe I don’t love Survivor New Zealand as much as I thought I did.


At the start of our next episode, the host reveals to the audience that it will be a 7-person jury with a Final Three. DAMMIT. A sixteen-person season with a Final Three at the end in a 40-day format? They were already merged by day 17. That is a really long post-merge for these guys with relatively few eliminations.

Australian Survivor went from 24 down to a Final Two, and they did it in just 55 days.

Thankfully, we stop strategizing as we learn background information about Lee. Everyone speculates on how that will help or hurt Lee. Oh, then we shift to strategy talk again. And the strategy talk is nothing new.

Tom and Avi discuss who they want to be in the Final Three with them. They propose Barb. I agree. Barb is weak in challenges and will be unpopular if the Mike-Lee-Jak-Shannon jury holds the power of who wins, and I can’t see Barb having much charisma with whoever the other three jurors would be.

My gut tells me old Hermosa will self-destruct as Tom, Avi, Sala, and Shay will likely be making a deep run in this game, with Tom being ditched at some point.

This is episode ten and we get Shannon’s 100th confessional about being in the middle since the start of the season. I wish we could hear interesting zookeeping stories by this point.

The immunity talisman is already hanging in the shelter. The immunity challenge hasn’t even happened yet. Producers are showing us footage out of order. My OCD is on red alert!

Lee has modified the campfire, the shelter, and now the food without consulting anybody else beforehand. Sala, Nate, and Shay are laughing at him in a Margie Adams-like manner. Nate and Barb complain about Lee again. Because, you know, old people.

Lee hears that Nate and Barb told Sala and Avi after the switch about Lee excluding them and bullying them on original Hermosa. Lee has the most passive sounding voice in Survivor history. How in the world did they bully them? We cut to Shannon who admits she created the rumour. She said she did it because she wants to solidify her position in the middle.

Mike is excited to have a top five to chop off the other five. But wait, Shannon is in the middle. If we trimmed ten minutes from this episode, it would be great. While Survivor US episodes are too short, the Survivor NZ episodes are definitely way too long. Especially when we only have one camp to watch per episode now.


Finally! The immunity challenge! In the words of our Kiwi host, let’s rip into it! We’ll rip into balls balancing on discs. We haven’t had an original challenge concept yet all season, by the way. Every challenge has been a blatant copy of the American version.

This challenge is remixed by the rope getting longer and longer rather than additional balls being added onto the disc. Sigh.

Tom, Jak, Sala, Shay, and Avi all bow out in the first round.

HOST: You can cut that tension with a knife!

***Everyone is silent***

Nobody is eliminated in round two. We head to the third and final round.

The wind has picked up. Barb’s disc is protected by a tree around her.

Lee and Nate lose hold of their balls.

Barb is out. Only Shannon and Michael remain. Wind picks up a helluva lot more.

Michael wins his second challenge in a row. Everyone applauds except Nate who is deep in thought. With Lee’s sudden surge in airtime, he could very well be screwed by the end of the episode. Sala points out for the tenth time that Michael is the strongest guy in challenges.

Barb says she is feeling faint. This game is not for the faint of heart. Her eyes do a very Bill Cosby-esque eyeroll on her way down as she faints.

We have a random skip in time as Barb is no longer with the players nor the host. Wow. The mood for this season takes another hit.

We shift to Sala praising  Michael as the biggest challenge threat yet again. The confessional format has a weird structure to it. I swear each contestant is only allowed to talk about one very specific thing, and then are forced to reword it in a thousand different ways.

Jak jokes about being “schweaty”. Do Kiwis not say “sweaty”?

TOM: Barb fainted. I didn’t really care. I was like. . .oh, she fainted.

Tom has less sympathy than I do. Wow. I didn’t think that was possible.

Avi and Tom talk about voting Shay. Tom assumes Shannon will switch to cause a tie, then assumes Avi will switch to avoid a rock draw. How is it going to be a tie with nine people?

Everyone speculates on who Shannon will vote with heading into Tribal Council. Avi intentionally walks away on his own to isolate himself from scrambling. He is worried Barb will be pulled from the game. . .until two seconds later when she walks back into camp.

The plan is for Sala/Shay/Nate/Barb to vote against Lee. Barb said she knew it was the plan even though she was gone for almost two hours.

Jak, Lee, Mike, Avi, and Tom play card games together. We get pictures of Jak’s butt crack for some reason. Lovely.

Mike thinks Avi is a standup guy. Jak is probably hurt because he utters so many jokes that he thinks he is the standup guy.

Tribal Council! Alas, a couple of storylines will be resolved. Will the surge in airtime for Lee be enough foreshadowing to confirm my suspicions?

Nothing particularly interesting comes out of Tribal Council’s discussion.

The votes are between Shay and Lee. 1-1. 2-2. 3-3. Fourth vote for Lee. Fifth vote for Lee. This ain’t good.

Oh. Five votes Lee, four votes Shay. This is a weird way to reveal it.

The final vote is for Lee. Mike is stunned. Jak looks like he watched the ending to Bambi for the first time.

Lee is going to Redemption Island. He says he will beat all of them. I don’t know about that, man.

HOST: Now a little surprise for you. . .You are doing your next individual immunity challenge right here. . .right now.

SALA: Haha. Cool.


Next Time on Survivor NZ: An immunity challenge followed immediately by another Tribal Council during that same night. At least we won’t have to wait 85 minutes again to see the next player voted out.

HIGH  CHANCE: Sala, Avi, Shannon, Nate

LOW CHANCE: Tom, Shay, Barb


* Subject to change if they whoop ass at Redemption Island.

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