28 November 2010

Aramoana beach weekend

We've made some great friends here in Dunedin but sadly a few of them are moving on at the end of this year. A couple of weekends ago was the last weekend that we were all in town at the same time so we booked a bach (aka shack/cottage/cabin) in a small beach community called Aramoana, about 45min from Dunedin.
It was the perfect cosy semi-rundown family beach shack full of quirky homemade art. The days were spent lazing about, playing games and trekking up sand dunes.

The shack was on a spit of land jutting into the Dunedin harbour so we were nestled between sand dunes with beach 5 meters away on both sides and at high tide we were cut off from the mainland. By night we watched the sunset on the beach:

The water here is pretty chilly (there's not much between us and the arctic except cold water) but Charlie, Justin and Kate went for an extrememly invigorating morning dip (not me, I was bred in tropical waters!).
It was Guy Fawkes weekend so by night we played with fireworks and I got some great shots. Here's Kit letting a rocket off, magic!

Aramoana, or Aramomomo...?I just spent another great day with these guys today at the beach and managed to stand up on a surf board for a solid length of time! We feel really lucky to have met such great people and although we're sad to see a few of them go we look forward to visiting them some day, and to another year with the rest of them who will still be here.

20 October 2010

Silver Peaks!

Who would have guessed that there would be a back country tramping track just outside of Dunedin? I guess we do live in NZ so it shouldn't come as a big surprise. This track is so close most people start IN Dunedin. We could have started at our apartment and it would have only added 3 hours each way. In the end we wimped out and instead opted for a 25 minute drive to the trail head. This is because I hate the environment and just didn't feel right doing something without increasing my carbon footprint, oh yeah also due to time constraints.

We started on Friday night, walking about 5 km to a camp site.

Because we didn't have to walk far we packed in a pretty nice meal for tramping. See exhibit A:

woke up the next day to this:

Started to walk toward Jubilee hut, via the devils staircase. The views were pretty awesome. One one side of the track you could see Dunedin in the distance and the other way was nothing as far as the eye could see. Crazy.

We ate lunch at the hut, and then carried on to ABC cave and Yellow Ridge. Had a few stream/river crossings along the way

For the most part it was a clear, hot day (a very novel thing in Dunedin) and we were walking through mostly scrub bush without much shade. It was probably the first time I felt thoroughly warm in months. We camped by a river and after a huge hill climb had a flat walk along the road back to our car.

30 September 2010


Oh Wow, has it really been almost a month since I updated the blog? Jeez, I guess so.

So you've probably heard and forgotten that there was a big earthquake here in NZ. It's true! It was a big deal because it happened very close to Christchurch, the second largest city in NZ and biggest on the South Island. Amazingly, no one was killed and very few were hurt. Most of this is because it happened at 430am and also because NZ has strict building codes in place for earthquakes. To put it in perspective the quake here was the same size as the one earlier this year in Haiti. Some people have complained that there is a lot of building damage, but from what I've been told "earthquake proof" buildings are a lot like cars they are designed to break/crumple to keep the people inside safe.

The quake itself hasn't affected much in our day to day life other than to spice up the nightly news (the headline news before the quake contained riveting accounts in to why the popcorn wasn't popping...). I didn't feel the quake but many people here did (430am.... I was ASLEEP). Christchurch is only a 5 hour drive away and was in a total state of emergency for a week, it is amazing to me how little it did change things here. I suppose it is the same way a hurricane can level a US city, but 99% of people in the country just go "oh yeah... i did hear about that."

A few supply chains did get interrupted or registered, there was some stuff missing on the store shelves and there was talk of a food panic, but it never materialized. There was more of a panic last week when a brewery in Auckland burnt down and there was mad rush to buy up beer....... I love the irony in the world.

Here is a photo I took on my mobile phone (sorry for the low res, don't usually carry the digital camera with me to the grocery store.

30 August 2010

License to Ill

I feel wonderful and gross all at the same time.

Kate's away a conference for a few days and you know who got to stay behind to punch ye old time clock. After an afternoon conversation with co-workers about burgers and chips (fries) I NEEDED a burger. Well the fish and chips shop at the end of the road does some tasty-looking burgers. I done a pretty good job at avoiding this place so far for obvious health reasons (Kate fell victim to the deep fried snickers bar a while ago).

Upon entry to the likely vermin infested take away i noticed not just a few burger options but a plethora. and cheap too. I was just going to get a cheeseburger, but for an extra $1.20 i could get bacon+egg+beet+mayo. Do you think I could pass that up? Hell no. No way in the world.

Look at this beaut:

and for the price of $4.50 the thing was a behemoth, this is the overhead angle is only the last 1/3.

If that wasn't enough I panicked while ordering. Suddenly in the midst of telling the guy i wanted a "bacon, egg and beet cheeseburger" i thought "dude, you need some chips with this thing" so chips I ordered. To which the very normal response from the cook was "how much chips?"

A quick aside to those who have not grown up around fish and chip shops. The way this works when ordering chips isn't a simple small or large, you call out a dollar amount and they give you whatever they feel is worth that much. In some ways its a cool system in other ways I always feel that they are ripping me off.

How much chips?

Now in NZ and Australia I usually don't order chips someone else does, I'm aware of my accent and aware that the dollar amounts are arbitrary, in my paranoid mind if Kate orders in a semi-local accent we'll sound more local and therefore get more chips.

How much chips?

[voice in my head] Ok so usually for a grow of people we split a big pack of chips and thats usually like $5 or 6, I think…. So, ummm, for one person….

"two dollars" is what i end up telling the man. I'm fairly confident with, cause yeah, $5 or $6 is usually, to my recollection, a good amount for 3 or 4 people. 10 minutes later my food is up, i get handed an enormous burger (see above) and an EVEN BIGGER pack of chips. like TWICE the size. !?!?!?!? then I remember, I don't think we've got chips at a take away since being here, at least not when I was in earshot of the counter. NZ must be prime potato growing land if two dollars gets me a freaking pound+ of deep fried delights. I mean seriously it is insane, I took a photo AFTER I had as many as I could possibly fit into my body (maybe I ate half of them before the photo?)

going… into… food… coma……… now.

28 August 2010

DIY: Level Up!

We have our first pet, a nice sourdough culture, affectionately named Bobby. When you leave Bobby alone at home in too small of a space he makes a mess all over everything. Bad Bobby!

But then those are those good days where you really get bond with your pet.

Nothing says love like eating 50% of his body mass once a week. Thanks guy!

In other DIY news we are starting to get serious about fermentation.

One of our closets has turned into fermentation cabinet. Wasn't much in it start with and we never did use those cleaning supplies that much….. anyway, back in June I brewed up my first batch of beer. I'm pretty excited about it, always something I wanted to do. Turns out someone I work with has all the gear so he let me borrow it before I committed to buying anything of my own.

Here is the beer before I put it in the bottle. You'll also noticed we made up two more batches of what I now refer to as "Hobo Mead." Lots of reasons to call it that I suppose, mostly the fact that it is pretty ghetto to brew in old plastic juice bottles and use balloons as airlocks. Also the fact that it tastes a bit like paint thinner. But it does the trick.

I bottled the beer 3 weeks ago, it will be ready to drink soon, just to keep the juices flowing last week I started another batch of beer which will be ready to start drinking around the 1 of November.

Keeping a supply of your own beer on hand takes a fair amount of foresight.

02 August 2010


Ok so a while ago Kate found a listing in the neighborhood newsletter for the Dunedin chicken show happening up near us in the Northeast Valley (our neighborhood). We've talked about getting chickens and some day, if we ever live somewhere for more than 2 years, we'll get some.

So at a $2 per person suggested donation this event did not disappoint.

A mid-winter visit

With relatively little notice Eli and Beth showed up in Dunedin as part of an around the world trip after the World Cup in South Africa. To be fair I did have ample warning that they were coming, but I never quite believed they were actually going to show up. Not because I distrust them, more that I didn't want to get too excited before I knew they actually had purchased tickets (which turns out was about 4 or 5 days before they arrived).

We had a blast while they were here, so much fun that Kate and I both ending up getting sick while they were here, recovered, and kept rocking it.

While I was busy slaving away at work Kate managed to take Eli and Beth out for a Harbour cruise, luckily the provided spray coats kept everyone dry as well as fashionable.

The weather was very cooperative, albeit a bit nippy, but the sunshine allowed us to take a drive into the mountains and meet this cheeky fellow who was very playful until he started pecking at the rubber around our car windows. He then turned slightly hostile and I feared a Hitchcock 'The Birds' scenario was starting so we high tailed it out of there as the Kea hopped along after the car.

Eli also managed to fit this ridiculous lion hat into his suitcase. Those of you privy to justin and jayne'ss wedding last year will remember a similar affair regarding the lion hat.

A group shot of us in a wine cave.

Don't let the blue skies fool you this water was very cold.

We've been trying to lay low and recover in the week or so since they left, it was awesome to have some visitors to break up the winter hibernation.

17 July 2010


Sorting through the photos from the last few months I came across some oldies but goodies. This happened a while ago, mid May-ish if i recall correctly…

So we were tipped off by some people that you can go "cockling" if you go a bit out of town on the habour. Our friends Kit and Natalie, who represent the fine state of Illinois, invited us along with 3 other Americans and another Aussie along for a Cockling adventure. All told one of the eight of us had been cockling before, a long time ago and not in Dunedin. But her dad was a fisherman, so we figured that was experience enough and rolled with it.

It turns out getting the Cockles (yes, plenty of very predictable jokes were made regarding Cockles) is the easy part, you just go at low tide and start digging and they are everywhere.

Kit, Burt and Caroline

Kate in the sand


The time consuming bit about cockling is the preparation. Rinse, Rinse, Rinse, Rinse, scrub and rinse some more, then boil them forever.

Burt scrubbing away

The final product is this…..

Not much left for the end product. But it was cool to do, even though I can't eat them.

05 July 2010

4th of July!

For the 4th of July weekend Kit and Natalie threw a 4th of July pot luck at their apartment. Lots of good patriotic food was rolled out, sadly no photos of the spread but I will tell you the creamy pasta salad, the 'liberty holes' (doughnuts), 'footlong of freedom' (sausages), 'victory wieners' (veggie dogs) and many more scrumptious treats did not fail to disappoint.

After the food the celebration of freedom continued with some dancing and merrymaking.

Woke up Saturday to a very nice and sunny day so we shook out the cobwebs of liberation from the night before and took a long drive out to the mouth of the harbor where it meets the ocean. Walked on not one but TWO beaches. The first was Long Beach, home a long beach (go figure), a climbing craig and the infamous caves in which raves and dance parties illegally thrown.

The next beach was Aramoana, again another nice beach, we missed seeing the seals, sea lions and penguins that usually frequent the beach be we did come upon this tidal flat where hundreds of crabs had buried themselves in the sand.

One last victory jump for the 4th.

24 June 2010

Around and About

Its officially winter now, LOOK!

Winter is nice here by the coast, it is chilly, I won't lie, but nothing compared to the midwest. Gotta love being able to go for a walk or drive on a sunday and not worry about ice and snow.

The luckiest sheep in the world.
Met some new friends, learned about 'superman jumps.' You run down the hall and jump into a crowd of people who catch you. Pretty much awesome.

Remember that post about the mead? Here it is, in the bottle. We had a wee nip and it actually tasted good (and no Jim I did not go blind). Here are a few bottles, we'll see how long we can manage to age them.

16 June 2010


A combined birthday present to ourselves was a weekend in Wanaka, a relaxed little town that serves as a base for ski sports in winter. It's a laid back alternative to Queenstown, adventure sports capital (and birthplace of bungee). We lazed around, watched a couple of movies, napped and went on some short hikes. Wanaka is set on a gorgeous lake.

This is where you build if you have vaults of spare cash lying around.

We stayed in a house built from haybales from the field right next to it! The walls are plastered and all of the edges are rounded, giving it a very cosy feel. Here's the view from the balcony.

Justin's banana chocolate birthday pancake!

Wanaka is home to the greatest movie theatre on earth: full of old couches and yes, that is a morris minor. They stop for intermission and serve fresh hot cookies and pizza and even after an hour of stomach-turning cannibalism in our movie those cookies stirred up our appetites.

NZ loves its themed junk tied to fences (toothbrushes, bras...). Here we discover a fence full of bike carcasses along a rail way line converted to a multi-day bike trail. We want to ride this thing on some operational bikes some day.

A classic New Zealand scene: sheep, grass and mountains. The sheep always stare, it gets a little disconcerting.