TODAY |

'I've just had a blast' - Kiwi surf athlete returns home for Christmas after colossal 2019

After a whirlwind 2019, Kiwi surf athlete Danielle McKenzie is back home for the holiday period.

The 25-year-old won the Canoe Ocean Racing World Championship in her debut year, also competing at the International Surf Rescue Challenge and returning to the Nutri-Grain Ironwoman series.

"Oh, honestly, I've just had a blast," McKenzie told 1 NEWS about her incredible year.

"I love racing. I've had a change in motivation. I think when you start winning you're excited and you have a lot of passion for what you do."

Now based on the Gold Coast, McKenzie's first taste of the Canoe Ocean Racing World Championships saw her come away with the top prize. That taste is now setting a standard McKenzie is more than happy to aim for.

"I've gone from just, 'Oh, happy enough with a top 10 finish,' to, 'Oh, I really want to be on that podium and I really deserve to be on that podium.'"

In the space of six weeks, McKenzie won a string of paddling events, represented New Zealand at the International Surf Rescue Challenge. She's now targeting a top three finish in Australia's Ironwoman series.

Her incredible year sees McKenzie nominated for the Halberg Awards' Sportswoman of the Year, alongside idol Lisa Carrington.

"I come up against Lisa Carrington every sports awards, and I've never, ever come close to beating her - and I never will."