'I can't say I've enjoyed every minute': Simon Bridges gets candid in first speech after ceding National leadership to Todd Muller

Simon Bridges has admitted to "overreacting" and sometimes "feeling powerless to help" during the country's moments of crisis in his first speech since being ousted as leader of the National Party.

Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller took over the party's leadership on Friday afternoon following an emergency caucus vote, taking Nikki Kaye as his deputy, who replaces Paula Bennett.

It is not yet known what role Bridges will take up, but in a speech from Parliament on Friday, he spoke in refreshingly candid fashion about the "heck of a ride" he's had at the party's helm over the last two years.

"It's been a rollercoaster of highs and lows - the highs have been very high, and the lows very low," he told reporters.

"March 15, White Island, COVID-19 and a certain former National MP [Jami-Lee Ross] who no longer is, who caused me a few troubles along the way - these things are felt differently for an Opposition leader… but they're felt nonetheless."

"Oftentimes, whether it's COVID-19 or March 15, there's a sense of wanting to help, but feeling powerless to do so; of wanting to react and, dare I say it, overreacting."

Later in the speech, while thanking wife Natalie and children Emlyn, Harry and  Jemima, he admitted criticism of him had "taken a toll" on the family.

"Sometimes the gladiator in the arena doesn't feel the blows the way your spouse and family do," he told reporters.

"I said to Natalie this morning, 'if I win, I win; if I lose, we win'. I'm really looking forward to spending more time being a better dad and husband to Natalie from later today.

"I haven't been the best dad - probably over the last two-and-a-half years - at an important time for [my children]."

Despite the lows, he noted there had been highs too: a backdown on capital gains and regional fuel taxes, and successfully pressing the Government into quarantine the border and increase the 10-person cap on funerals during the COVID-19 crisis.

"I can't say I've enjoyed every minute of it - but I almost have," he said. "It's been a blast. I've got absolutely no regrets."

Bridges congratulated Muller and Kaye for their victory in the caucus vote and wished them well. He believes they will be able to win the election in September.

He also acknowledged his staff and deputy Bennett - the name of whom he joked he "got right this time" after accidentally calling her by nickname Paula Benefit earlier this week.

"Thank you for being such a loyal, competent person and counsel for me," he said. 

Bridges says he will now "take a bit of stock" with family before returning to Parliament as normal next week.