My wife, Ivy, piled our bags into the back of the car.
It was the start of the long weekend and we'd decided to take our six-month-old bub, Kyra, to visit my family, who lived five hours away.
But before we could leave, there was something we had to do.
"Let's pray," I said.
It was a tradition I always followed whenever we travelled.
"Watch over us, keep us safe from danger," I said before setting off.
It was early evening and we planned to have dinner somewhere along the way.
But as I drove through Waipunga, just two hours after starting out, I noticed the tyres swerving.
"I think there's black ice," Ivy said, gripping the glove box.
Suddenly, the car started fishtailing.
Seconds later, we were off the road, plunging over the side of a steep cliff.
"Our baby!" Ivy screamed in fear.
Next thing, we were tossed around as though we were in a tumble dryer.
The car flipped 10 times before crashing down on its side.
A sea of glass exploded as my window smashed, and the horn blared from the impact of my body hitting it.
By now it was pitch black.
I couldn't see a thing and had no idea where we were.
What frightened me most was Kyra's silence.
Ivy must've thought the same thing.
"Kyra!" she screamed.
Unbuckling my seat belt, I managed to crawl into the back seat and find Kyra, who was in stunned silence, buried under a blanket and bags.
I pulled everything off her, then removed her clothes, grateful to see she wasn't hurt.
"There's blood!" Ivy gasped.
But we realised it was coming from me – there was a big, deep gash on my forearm.I found a T-shirt from our luggage, which was strewn on the back seat, and tied it around the wound, before covering it with some of Kyra's nappies to act as a bandage.
Ivy seemed to be in even more pain.
"I can't move," she stammered. At that moment, she blacked out.I shook with fear, worrying she'd died.
Thankfully, her eyes fluttered open again just seconds later, but she was distraught.
"I can't see!" she screamed.
I didn't know what to do – we were trapped who-knew-where in the wreckage.
I searched everywhere for our phones, with no luck.
I figured they'd been thrown from the car during the crash.
After a few minutes, Ivy blinked rapidly.
"I think my sight's coming back," she said in a shaky voice.
Just then, it started to rain. The steady trickle grew heavier, working into a storm that cracked with thunder.
Climbing out of the car in this weather would be madness, but the smashed windows meant we were getting drenched.
I grabbed the floor mats and tried to block the holes as best I could, while Ivy held Kyra to her chest.
I thought of my mum, Virginia, who'd passed away from cancer five years earlier.
She was the greatest mother a boy could ask for – I just hoped she'd be watching out for us right now.
"As soon as there's light, I'll make a move to get help," I promised Ivy. "No-one'll find us here."
Neither of us slept a wink – we barely spoke, either.
Shivering with cold, we had to stay warm and be positive that we wouldn't die there.
At 6.30am, the first streaks of daylight appeared.
Poking my head out of the window, I looked around in terror.
We'd landed on the edge of a cliff!
A good 30m below was a river which we could easily had landed in if the car hadn't stopped where it was – we'd come dangerously close.
I gave Ivy a kiss.
"I love you," I told her, carefully clambering out onto the cliff.
Looking up, I saw I'd need to climb a steep, 100m hill to reach the road we'd careered off.
The ground was muddy and slippery from the rain.
Digging my feet into the earth as best I could, I tried to grab hold of something, but my wounded arm was throbbing and the terrain was covered in gorse, a spiky weed which cut into my hands.
No! I thought.
Looking around, I found the cap I'd been wearing and a reusable bag which had fallen out during the crash.
I wrapped both around my hands so I could grab onto tree roots and haul myself up without bleeding.
My feet slid out from me a few times, but I kept thinking of Ivy and Kyra, who were relying on me to get help.
An hour later, I finally reached the road.
Peering down, I realised no-one would ever see the cliff we'd landed on from the road.
I'd definitely done the right thing by leaving for help.
Running along the bitumen with every last drop of energy I had, I waved frantically at a car which, thankfully, stopped.
"Please help us!" I cried.
The driver was a man named John, who was horrified to hear of my ordeal.
"There's no mobile signal here," he said.
My stomach sank, but I hadn't come this far only to fail at the first hurdle.
Then a truck came speeding along down the road.
John and I waved down the driver and he used the RT to call for help.
Breathing a sigh of relief, I rushed back to the cliff edge and called out to Ivy.
"Help's coming, babe!" I promised.
Fingers crossed she could hear me!
Firefighters arrived and abseiled to the car, then a helicopter flew over and winched Ivy and Kyra to safety.
I wanted to hold them so badly, but before I could, Ivy was whisked away to hospital to be checked for injuries and hypothermia.
As my wound wasn't as severe as it'd seemed, I was taken to a smaller hospital, with Kyra, to have it dressed and was reunited with my precious wife later that day.
Miraculously, aside from some cuts and bruises, we were all fine.
Cuddling Kyra brought tears to my eyes.
Later, when it was just the two of us, Ivy confessed that she'd prayed to my mum the entire night we were stuck in our wrecked car on the edge of that cliff.
I couldn't believe it.
"Me, too!" I gasped.
We wondered whether Mum's spirit had been responsible for our incredible survival.
The rescue team still can't believe we made it out of that wreckage alive.
Our brush with death has taught us to never take anything for granted.
Life can change in the blink of an eye, and I have too much to live for to throw it away.