Life on The Block was no cruise
Anyone who has watched TV3's show The Block will agree it looks tough.
But Nelsonians Loz and Tom Heaphy say the reality of the show is that is way tougher than it appears.
The couple had to contend with long hours, lack of sleep and no downtime to go shopping for food or other essentials.
"Not even five minutes to take out to go down to the shops to buy lip balm or a bottle of water or anything," Tom said.
"The first couple of weeks we only had one dry area and we put all of the food in there and then the builders leant the entire gib delivery against it - 14 sheets of gib - we had no food, and most of our possessions were locked in there."
Both agree that this week's episode, which saw them complete a master bedroom, ensuite and study nook in the same week was the hardest week yet.
Producers had admitted they had perhaps got it wrong by asking contestants to do so much.
Tom said not quite finishing the master bedroom in the episodes that showed this week was probably the lowest point since week one.
But it was also a relief as it meant the end of all-night painting marathons.
Watching the show has been fun, as they were unaware what story lines the producers would focus on.
Each couple has its own film crew which follows them from 6am until 11pm or as late as 1am each day. Other film crews float around the site.
"So much happens," Tom said. "So much filming, and so little gets shown".
It also gave them a chance to see what the other couples had been up to as sometimes they did not see them for days until they came together for judging.
Loz is an international marketing manager at Nelson Tasman Tourism and Tom works as sales and marketing manager at SBL Limited.
Both are Nelsonians, and the only South Island couple on the show. The boys Pete and Andy are actually from Bulls, not Southland.
Both say that while it was hard work they loved being on the show. They formed great friendships with Alice and Caleb, and the brothers Pete and Andy. Alisa and Koan kept more to themselves.
Tom said the cameras did not show just how much the other couples helped each other out, especially late at night when the film crew had gone home.
"So yes, it was a competition but we just wanted to help each other and get through it," Tom said.
"It was invaluable. You would run out of paint at 2am and you would be absolutely stuffed if you couldn't go and borrow some from someone else."
The friendships kept them sane.
Dealing with the negative comments from everything to how much Loz cried to their hairstyles was hard, but part of the experience.
They believe that it is only a very small vocal majority who are critical, and most people were nice and incredibly supportive.
The public also did not realise the judges had never met them when they judged the rooms, Loz said.
"I suppose it is a relief that we have come across as pretty reasonable normal kiwis, because people still find things to pick on us and I think we've done pretty well. It would be hard to deal with if people were pretty anti us," Tom said.
Loz said the attacks about her crying were unfair as the reality of the show was it was incredibly tough and "a lot of it was camera in your face telling you to say exactly how you were feeling right then".
Producers made out that she cried more than she did.
"A week on The Block feels like a lifetime," Tom said.
"So for us it really didn't seem like Loz cried that much.
"If she was to cry perhaps, once in a week, that's nothing, you do so much stuff in a week on the block that's just an instant in time."
As complete renovation rookies the couple are really pleased with what they have achieved.
"I think we were pretty surprised at the length of time that we could continue to function in all capacities, just day on day - 70 days straight, averaging maybe four hours sleep a night.
"The fact we just mentally stayed strong, kept going, didn't give up and worked as much as possible to get it done. We really kept up that attitude that not finishing is not an option," Tom said. "We certainly don't regret it we are really pleased we did it," Loz said.
The ultimate challenge for the couple - the auction is yet to come. "It's terrifying as we have already put so much into it, and it could all be for nothing - financially at least - on auction day. And going through that on live TV and trying to hide or disguise that. I'm sure we would be absolutely distraught if we came away with nothing. That's the type of thing I have nightmares about," Tom said.
"Then I would cry," Loz said.
- © Fairfax NZ News