Sunday, November 3, 2013

Allans Beach

One of my favorite things about Dunedin is the wildlife that lives right at the cities doorstep.  The Otago Peninsula is home to penguins, seals, sea lions and albatross.  There are also whales, dolphins and sharks!  I've always been a nature/wildlife lover and to just go walking along our local beach and come across sea lions sleeping in the sand and seals sunning themselves on the rocks is so very cool.

When we first visited Dunedin last year in September (2012), Simon's mom took us to a beach she had gone to with her film class called Allans Beach.  The beach has a nesting area for the yellow-eyed penguins, is dotted with sea lions and is located approximately half an hour outside of the city along the Otago Peninsula.

Driving out to the beach feels like you are driving out to no where.  You have to go along a narrow dirt road that straddles an estuary on both sides!  Eventually the road comes to an end under some big pine trees.  You then have to hop over a fence and walk through a paddock (pasture) till you reach the sandy trail that leads you to the beach.  As you follow the trail over the sand dunes keep your eyes peeled b/c sea lions are usually sleeping nearby.

Arriving at the end of the trail you see a kilometre long, white sand surf beach.  The color of the water is an amazing deep green to turquoise blue color.  And it is evidently one of the best surfing spots in NZ.  As you walk down the beach you will *normally* see sea lions basking in the sun.  Look closely b/c they blend in with the sand really well!  At the end of the beach is where the penguins live. 

When we visited this beach the first time we saw sea lions and it was amazing, but it was so freakin' cold.  The second time we went with our very good friends and first visitors from Auckland, we got the tide wrong and couldn't even get on the beach, so we saw no sea lions or penguins.  But we still had an awesome time!

So tips for visiting this beach is go at low tide and do not go during a Southerly or else you will be blown away and will freeze your tail off!  This is one place I cannot wait to visit during the peak of summer!  Bring it!

September 2012 - can you spot the sea lion?

September 2013

 Oh yea, and us adults got a night out w/ no kids, thanks to GiGi and Jedi!  We went to the Mexican restaurant Del Sol after kiddy hour!  Olay!  

Monday, September 9, 2013

Botanical Garden

What a fantastic Spring weekend!  It was shorts weather in *cold* little Dunedin.  Yea, you hear that, shorts!!  Bodie and I had the morning to ourselves and thought we should spend it at one of our favourite places in Dunedin, the Botanical Gardens (about 2 minutes from our house). 

There is so much to do here! Obviously there is a playground, but there is a train, duck feeding station (with free food), aviary, thousands of different plants, bridges, trails, cafe and the glorious view!!  And have I mentioned how AMAZING the weather was?!

Some info: The Dunedin Botanic Garden is New Zealand's first botanic garden and holds the status of Garden of International Significance. It has hill views from sunny lawns, more than 6,800 plant species and the song of wild native bellbirds, wood pigeons and tui.  The Garden celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2013, marking its position as New Zealand’s first botanic garden. It occupies 28 hectares in North Dunedin at an altitude of 25 – 85 metres above sea level.

The train that operates is 100% charity run and has been operating for the past 20 years!  It's affordable ($2 adult, $1 child - over 5, under free).  All the operators are volunteers and they are advertising for drivers!

Bodie and I went to the park in the late morning.  He took his scooter (no bikes allowed) and when we got there and he kept wanting to race (so I was chasing after him) I thought "Dang, why didn't I bring my scooter"?!  Anyways, he rode around the entire garden and had no inclination to play on the playground.  Instead, he wanted to go for a walk along the trails and look for Dinosaurs.  I have to say it was one of the best hour walks I've ever had.  Bodie was holding my hand and we were singing songs and imagining dragons and dinosaurs swinging around in the trees.  So fun!  At one point Bodie said "Mom, there's a swing can I swing on it".  I didn't see the swing at first because it was vines out of a tree that were hanging down.  So he spent a good half an hour jumping off the bank and swinging on this vine.  It was so cool.  For some reason I kept thinking about The Giving Tree.  I must get that book!

Anyways, at lunch time we decided to go home for lunch and then come back with my scooter (and Simon).  We had such a great time.  We found ramps and we did tricks.  We were hot and tired so we got ice cream and water at the cafe.  Then Bodie found a 'friend' and the two of them played for AGES.  All in all it was once again a great day at the Botanical Gardens (or 'tanical garden as said by the Bodie)!

Here are a ton of pictures. 

 Bodie and I were racing to the bridge...
 I'm gaining on him!
 Ah, photo finish and I had to jump off due to a 1 yr old toddling out.
 So Bodie jumped off..


 Trying to catch some air


 Air man, definite air!  hoot!
 Bodie was so cute.  He tried to 'get air' and ended up just hopping on his scooter.  Good effort though!  One time he jumped up and pulled the scooter back and landed on his bottom.  Bruised ego and bit of tears, but he was fine.  Luckly he had on his helmet b/c his head smacked the pavement!

Bodie and his friend spiderman tumbling in the grass.

 I don't know if you can see it but this tree is crawling with children.  Probably 10+ in it, Bodie included.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Del Sol! A restraunt for kids!

A new restaurant has opened up in Dunedin.  Simon's mom and Del had some friends in town so we decided to book a table for 6pm.  I was a little apprehensive with Bodie b/c he isn't the best at sitting still for long amounts of time.  When we got there I was so relieved!  The place was totally kid friendly!  I think every table had kids at it!  The place is really loud, so if your kid is loud, no one hears him.  In saying that, if you want to go somewhere to have a good chat, this isn't the place.  You can't really hear people at the other end of the table without yelling!  They also have big sombreros that you can wear and that is fun for the kids... and adults)!.  The d├ęcor is really cool.  It's an old building and they managed to make it look like a Mexican restaurant but keeping the quant old style charm of the old building.  The drinks were great and the food was greater!  Everyone at the table enjoyed their meal.  I got a pulled pork tostada, which is basically pulled pork nachos.  And it had bits of cracklin' in it!  Unlike most NZ food, the pork had a kick to it and the avocado went well with it, cooling it down a bit.  By the time we were finished with the food, kids were running all over the place.  We were out of there by 730pm and it looked like most of the other kids were too.  The clientele also changed from 7pm or so. 

So, if you feel like a good family dinner that isn't too expensive (minus drinks) then check it out!  On Moray Place across from the Rialto!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Impromptu Car Show

On Saturday, Bodie and I returned from a visit to my folks in America.  We went over for my Dad's 70th birthday.  After spending an entire day (24 hours) traveling with Bodie, Simon took Bodie out to ride his bike on Sunday morning.  Bodie was a keen bean to do this.  So, Simon drives Bodie over to Dinosaur Park and as soon as Bodie steps out the car he starts shivering and says "It's cold, Dad.  I want to go to Old McDonalds".  So, instead of riding bikes, Bodie and Si ended up doing this...

Sometime around mid-day Simon called me to ask if I wanted a coffee brought home.  He then told me that there was a hot rod car show in the Octagon.  Seeing as how I had just left my family and my dad is a HUGE Mopar fan and I grew up going to Car Shows with my dad, I couldn't miss this!
Turns out it was an impromptu show put on by the Hot Rod club of Dunedin called the ConRodders!  All I could do when I was there was think about my Dad.  My Dad is such a Mopar man that if he is traveling down a road at 100 km/hr and we pass an old car, he can tell you the make, model and all kinds of special details just from the split second look!  So, you can imagine how fun it is to go with him to a car show where he tells you about every car you see.  I remember we went to a car show when he visited NZ and he was saying how in America they were different year makes or that the car is a '56 but the tail or grill is a '58 (for example).  He also mentioned that all the cars that weren't popular in America (back then) were over here, like 4 doors instead of coupes or visa versa. 
So, on a day when I just returned to NZ and my parents were half a world away, I thought it was very cool to stumble upon this event that made me feel like my parents were so close.
The cars would come and go at random and the smell of the engines took me back 'home' and the sound of there rumbling engines and how they echoed through the Octogon as they 'stomped on it' put a huge smile on my face, just as it would put one on my Dad's had he of been there. 
So, I guess this blog is for my Deddy.  I love you, Deddy and I'm glad I got to come home for your 70th Birthday!  If you and Mama ever decide to come live here, there is a Mopar Club here waiting for you to join! xoxo

I really liked this Thunderbird!

Bodie had to get a picture with "Bumblebee"

Look a race car from Fayetteville, North Carolina!!

Deddy, here is a Chrysler!!


Sunday, July 7, 2013

America Day and Bike Parks

After what seems like rain for weeks and weeks, we finally got a break.  The skies cleared and this weekend was a stunner!  Saturday the wind direction was from the north east, so while it was breezy, it was a warm breeze.  This made the day so so beautiful!  I was able to get out for a bike ride along the Peninsula in the morning.  I thought we should get a kayak b/c it was perfect kayak weather! 

It was the 4th of July week.  This is significant for two reasons at our house.  1) It is Bodie's half birthday and 2) It is America's birthday so we have a party, an American party, every year!  Bodie and I spent Friday afternoon decorating the house and talking about why July 4th is significant.  This year we invited two families we have gotten to know over the past few months and Si's mom and step-dad.  Rules are everyone has to bring an American dish to share with everyone.  I LOVE this part of it!  This year we had hotdogs, French fries, buffalo wings, BLTs, corn dogs, Doritos, pringles, pop corn, m&ms, chocolate pie and red velvet cake w/ cream cheese icing!  Beverages were Budweiser and Sam Adams!  Our guest were awesome and all turned up wearing red white and blue.  The cake and BLTs had little flags in them and I wondered where they got them.  I then looked closer, and they had printed them off, cut them out and taped them to toothpicks!  So much thought and effort goes into this event from our friends each year and it makes me so happy! After we ate dinner we headed over to the park behind our house and Si and I set off some fireworks for everyone.  The kids loved it and I think the adults did too!  I love this day b/c the food is delicious, I love fireworks and it's really cool to have a night that is all about America!  I miss America! 

Bodie making the meringue for the chocolate pie

 Sunday, after a sleep in till 830 (gasp!) we woke up to another beautiful blue sky day, but the wind direction changed to a cold southerly.  After a yummy buttermilk pancake breakfast we headed out to see what the day would bring.  Last weekend Bodie proved that he can ride a two wheel pedal bike, so we took off up the road to the local BMX track, located in Forrester Park on Norwood Street.  

We found that it was a bit too much for Bodie, while he loved being pushed up and down the hills, he hasn't worked out how to/that he needs to pedal harder to go up the hills, so he ended up falling a few times.  That combined with the cold and we ended up leaving to go back to the Dinosaur Park so he could ride on the flat where "there were no rocks".  Bodie ran into a friend from his daycare and the two of them rode around happily for about an hour! 

The BMX park is nestled in a narrow valley between the hills, so in the winter it doesn't get much sun so dress warm b/c no sun and ripping wind makes for a freezing cold place if you are just a bystander! A very cool track for anyone who is into this stuff, go here!  They also have soccer fields, mountain bike tracks and dog walking areas.

First time Bodie rode a two wheel pedal bike at Dinosaur Park

Wow Bodie!  You grew!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Midwinter Carnival and King Tides

This weekend was the Winter Solstice, which marked the shortest day of the year.  In one respect I guess you could say winter is almost over!  Though, I've been told that down here in Dunedin winter goes well into September.  Regardless, it's a great thought that days will, from now on, be longer and not shorter!  To bring in the Winter Solstice, a southern storm was brewing down in the southern ocean and hit New Zealand like a ton of bricks this weekend.  It brought deep snow to most areas of the Central South Island, hurricane force winds in Wellington (up to 200km/hr - 125mph), and strong winds, hail and thunderstorms to much of the North Island.  Here in Dunedin it sleeted for 2-3 days.. which is a bit of a let down when they were predicting 30-50 cm (12 - 19 inches) of the fun white stuff!

In the midst of this southern storm, two exciting things were on the cards this weekend.  First up, Grand Dad was visiting us from Auckland!  Bodie (and Si and I) has missed Grand Dad b/c he used to live 7-8 houses up the road from us in Auckland and we saw him pretty regularly on the weekends.  The storm made it tricky for Grand Dad's arrival.  His flight was cancelled due to ice on the Dunedin runway, so he got on a flight through Christchurch that arrived in Dunedin later in the evening... only for the flight to Christchurch be delayed due to snow fall in Christchurch!  Luckily, the delay didn't cause him to miss his connecting flight and he arrived in Dunedin, a bit late and frazzled from the crowded airport (all flights to Wellington, Dunedin and ChCh were delayed/cancelled so the Auckland airport was a zoo!!)

The second exciting thing was the annual Dunedin Midwinter Carnival held in the Octogon every year.  This was one of the coolest things I have experienced in New Zealand!  This carnival is essentially a lantern parade, with a theme every year.  This year the theme was "Journey to Discovery".  The carnival works to support the employment of local artists and greater participation in the arts by the wider community.  They hold workshops each year for the community to go and make lanterns and then those who made the lanterns get to participate in the parade by carrying their lantern!  It was so cool!  There were big Wakas (Maori boats), Albatross, people on stilts with lit up costumes, people dancing in glowing paint, bands, dancers with flags and of course the local community who made lanterns at the workshops.  After the parade there was a fireworks display.  It felt like they were so close!  And it was a good display!  The best part of it, was it started at 530 and by 630 you were heading home!  So, absolutely perfect amount of time for those with small kids!  This is an event I highly recommend!  Next year we may even book into a workshop and make some lanterns! 



Down at St Clair there is an Esplanade that is situated right on the southern ocean.  They are infrastructure issues with it (a number of huge holes formed due to erosion), so half of it is closed to the public, but this weekend there was high seas due to the storm as well as a king tide.  So, the waves were crashing over the wall.  Simon took Grand Dad and Bodie down to look at the water.  It was a cool sight!  I understand the waves can get super high and were REALLY big on Friday (see video here:  This is a common occurrence so, there are some really cool pics on google images if you feel like browsing.