Survivor NZ recap: Tribes united but players divided, as the merge tests loyalties

Previously on Survivor NZ: JT exited the game due to medical reasons and Dylan was shocked after being the seventh Survivor voted out at tribal council.

Adam is all smiles at Chani and says he "feels like the luckiest boy in the world" after his arch nemesis Dylan was blindsided at the last tribal council.

However, now his rival is gone Adam is unsure what to do next in the game. Time to create a new rival perhaps?

Renee is sick of her alliance with Dave and Arun, she thinks that they are leaving her on the outs and is ready to strike up a new partnership with Adam to shake up the game.

Over at Khangkhaw Tess got no sleep due to a mysterious creature who visited their tribe in the night. Luckily the camp's chickens are still alive, but maybe not for long if a starving Brad has his way.

Lisa is also out for blood and wants to drop her librarian mum routine and step up her gameplay.

"We're all gutted"

At the reward challenge Chani find out that JT has left the game due to medical reasons and Arun says he is "gutted" for him.

Chani and Khangkhaw face off at reward. Source: 1 NEWS

JT sends a message through host Matt Chisholm to let everyone know that he is on the mend now he has left the show.

No time to dwell on the news with reward on the line. The challenge sees both tribes trying to smash targets with a giant slingshot and Khangkhaw dominate to win reward.

But wait.. twist time! Chisholm reveals that everyone wins a new tribal buff as its merge time.

Chani and Khangkhaw are no more, the new sole tribe is called Phsan, which is Thai for "too merge". Makes sense.

"Oh my god!"

The merge feast is huge, featuring steak, French fries and tons of sweet treats. Strategy talk is put on hold as the starving Survivors stuff their faces.

Lisa seems drunk on food and compares the feast to the moment she first held her newborn son. Fitting, as a food baby may soon be on the way.

Dave nearly eats until he vomits but manages to hold it down and go back for more.

After the gorging is done Adam sneaks off with Tess to rekindle their relationship and he tells her the hell he went through when he switched to Chani.

Little does Tess know that he's lying to gain favour with his old Khanghkhaw tribemates so he can play both sides. I remember when Adam used to call Dylan sneaky…

"Such a bully eh?"

Stage two of Adam's devious plan involves telling Brad about how Arun bossed everyone around over at Chani and is generally not a good guy to play the game with.

Talking to camera Adam reveals this is all just part of his master plan to knock Arun off so he can manipulate the "fresh faced babies" around camp easier.

This merge has really brought out the strategist in Adam, who is positioning himself as a real contender in this game.

Dave is also cooking up a plan of his own to get rid of Lisa by using his "man bun" alliance with Arun, Adam and Matt. Which way will Adam go is the big question as the tribe head off to a very important first individual immunity challenge.

"This is what you will be playing for now"

The individual immunity idol. Source: 1 NEWS

Chisholm reveals the new individual immunity necklace and it’s a bigun. Luckily they all just had a feed or the winner may struggle under its weight.

The challenge is the Survivor classic house of cards building one where you have to build a tower of tiles up to a three metre marker.

This is the reason I don't apply for the show, no one needs to see how bad my building skills are on national TV, easier to say it here and get it over with.

Matt wins the first individual immunity. Source: 1 NEWS

Matt however is pretty darn good and has the highest tower with just five minutes to go in the challenge. Instead of trying to reach the three metre level he wisely stops building and runs out the clock to win, as his rivals' towers topple around him.

Big win for Matt, this leaves Dave and Lisa still vulnerable after their names were thrown around as targets earlier.

The plot thickens...

The showdown between Dave and Lisa is made more interesting as Dave has a hidden immunity idol and Lisa has the ability to steal someone's vote from them at tribal, effectively giving her two votes.

Lisa is worried everyone knowing about her advantage might blow up in her face as it has done to past players on the US Survivor. She should be as Dave and Arun are still keen to get her out.

Matt and Adam on the other hand are keeping their options open and could easily go against the Arun and Dave alliance or Brad, Tess and Lisa's.

Renee and Tara haven't had much screen time and I have no idea which way they're leaning.

Whatever happens a line will be drawn in the sand at tribal tonight and Dave and Matt's secret school friendship might be tested.

"Bit of a tightrope"

At tribal council Chisholm brings up the fact everyone in Phsan is now on the jury and will be the ones that decide who wins the $250,000.

Arun says he respects "big moves" and good strategic game play.

Before voting begins Lisa pulls out her steal a vote advantage and uses it to steal Arun's vote. Well, there is a big move that Arun probably isn't too happy about!

He isn't too happy about the votes which Chisholm reads out either as he is sent packing and becomes the eighth person voted out of Survivor NZ.

Arun was a big player in the game and this vote is sure to shake things up back at the Phsan tribe's camp.

Watch all episodes of Survivor NZ on TVNZ OnDemand.

List of Survivor's and vote status:

Adam, 28, Self-Employed, Auckland
Arun, 30, Dairy Farmer, Waikato (voted out episode 8)
Brad, 27, School Teacher, Nelson
Dave, 26, Clinical Pharmacist, Auckland
Dylan, 26, Retail Manager, Whangarei (voted out episode 7)
Eve, 26, Hiking Guide, Auckland
Franky, 24, Journalist, Auckland (voted out episode 3)
Josefien, 23, Audio Post Producer, Blenheim (voted out episode 1)
Josh, 28, Chartered Accountant, New Plymouth (voted out episode 6)
JT, 32, Project Manager, Manawatu (left for medical reasons)
Karla, 37, Reporter, Palmerston North (voted out episode 2)
Kaysha, 24, Social Worker, Horowhenua (voted out episode 4)
Liam, 23, Videographer, Tauranga (voted out episode 5)
Lisa, 38, School Librarian, Christchurch
Matt, 25, Rocket Technician, Auckland
Renee, 28, Real Estate Agent, Auckland
Tara, 44, Full-time Mum, Hamilton
Tess, 24, Office Manager, Christchurch

The new Phsan tribe. Source: 1 NEWS