Celebrity Treasure Island is officially over, so what have we learnt?

Well, I learnt it doesn’t matter how many treasure hunt clues you earn in life - you can always wade out to a tiny island and just pick some up without having to do much hard work.

Goodbye Shannon. Source: TVNZ

Shane, Athena and Gary make a play for the finale Source: TVNZ

I learnt lads will always side with each other when it comes to the crunch - women be damned.

I learnt that if either Athena Angelou or Shannon Ryan had made the final three, the episode would have lasted approximately 20 minutes before the treasure was found (so maybe not a bad decision by the men of Treasure Island, after all).

And I learnt Gary Freeman should be cast as Frodo in the Lord of the Rings TV series immediately - as long as he gets to bring that giant backpack with him.

Our three finalists. Source: TVNZ

But we are getting ahead of ourselves; let’s rewind.

The final few days on the mysterious Fijian island started with Sam Wallace doing his laundry and Shane Cameron doing the Samba.

What they both should have been focusing on was puzzle practice because, in the end, Celebrity Treasure Island threw brute strength to the side and it was methodical thinking that was the key to winning that $100,000 for charity (and bragging rights for all time, we can only assume).

As the final treasure hunt inched closer, the curveballs just kept coming for our celebs.

The happy family before it all went wrong. Source: TVNZ

Shannon came from behind to take out a mega-challenge of swimming, obstacles and puzzles to pocket the final four clues, leaving her holding an incredible 11 of the 13 clues in play. But with a target on her back, she had never been less in control of the game.

Gary got the final say for the final elimination challenge after winning slingshot bingo. It gave him the power back for the first time since the teams merged, and he hated it.

The sensible thing for the former Mako captain to do would be to pit Kahu against Kahu, Shannon against Sam.

But silly Gary made a deal with the devil the night before, promising Sam there would be no chance of elimination if he was in charge. And Gary is a man of his word. A handshake is a handshake, Sam stayed safe and it was Athena and an exhausted Shannon battling it out.

In the end, a fourth challenge in a row was too much even for powerhouse Shannon, and Athena secured her spot as the last woman standing.

Possibly the biggest puzzle of the series came next though, when Shannon left almost all her clues to Shane. What did they talk about to get to that point in their relationship?! Did we even see them in the same hut together? Or was he just the best of a bad bunch in Shannon’s eyes?

Shane is honest about his struggles with reading and writing and knows to decipher these clues, he’s going to have to work hard. Especially after Sam aced a maze challenge to secure the first spot in the finale.

That left Gary, Shane and Athena to fight for the final two spots in a strength/endurance challenge that went on for so long the sun had set, a monsoon had set in and production were clearly getting bored so Shane and Garry made a deal to take each other through, leaving Athena sitting on the side of a sailboat, looking like chopped liver.

Once again, after weeks of being told she wasn’t strong enough, or tough enough, or good enough to be worth saving, Athena was gracious and poised and managed to hide any bitterness she might have been feeling. Or maybe she was just so resigned to being underestimated, she’d given up trying to convince the guys otherwise.

Either way, we had a final fit for the three shirtless stooges, with Gary, Sam and Shane completing a handful of tasks to get bits of a treasure map, directing them to the point where the hard-fought-for clues came into play.

Gary struggled with an initial swim leg, but Shane struggled to collect the correct clue. Gary couldn’t build a fire to save himself, but Shane proved himself a talented firebug, even trying to hold fire with his bare hands.

Clue-laden Shane admitted he had never been so lost in his life. He was the first to the graveyard, where the treasure was buried, but played follow-the-leader with a (literally) clueless Sam, who took up the offer of making a detour to collect his own copies of all the clues with just a small trip to an offshore island.

It turns out all that game-playing didn't mean much when the producers were going to simply hand the clues out all along.

Meanwhile, Gary was plodding around, basically foraging for mushrooms in the tree roots, and looking like our very own Frodo, walking stick, backpack and all.

If serious puzzlers Shannon and Athena we’re here, we would have been packed up and home by lunchtime. Instead we have three foolish, tired men blundering their way through this.

And then came the thud that stopped a nation.

In the end, it was Sam who was the smartest stooge of them all, finally deciphering enough clues to hit the buried treasure first. There were tears from our victor. There were cuddles from Gary. And then it was over.

The win - and redemption - went to a man who might have ended his time on the island as the class clown, but he certainly started hell-bent on making himself as unlikeable as possible.

“I think I’m going to come across as an arse,” said Sam early on in the race to the finish line. “I think the people are really going to hate you,” Gary agreed with that giggle that will long echo in our dreams.

Does that make the end result disappointing? Perhaps a little.

Would it have been a more satisfying conclusion to have a woman somewhere in the mix? Of course.

And without question, somewhere out there, Athena, Barbara and Shannon are sitting, feet up, shaking their heads and wondering what might have been if a fierce woman had been there at the end with a spade and a clue.

The full season of Celebrity Treasure Island is available on TVNZ OnDemand.

Bridget Jones is a TVNZ publicist and former entertainment reporter.