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.

Monday, June 17, 2013

LIttle Day Out

The weather really packed in for the weekend.  I had thought that Saturday was going to be an overcast, but dry day and we could go to the local BMX park to ride bikes.  Unfortunately after playball it began to rain.  Simon had a soccer game and it was me with a 3yr old who wanted to desperately go to a playground.  It was way too wet and cold outside and as much as I am grateful there is a Chipmunks, by gosh i really couldn't handle going there again.

Instead, we went to Mcdonalds.  I am in no way promoting their food but seriously, Mcdonalds playland was an absolute lifesaver this weekend!  We were there for 2.5 hours, Bodie had migrating flocks of 'friends' to play with and me... well, i sat at a table with a coffee and read the newspaper.  I seriously don't remember the last time I was able to sit and read the ENTIRE saturday newspaper.  It was strangely one of the most relaxing afternoons i've ever had. So, readers, if you find yourself pulling your hair out on a rainy afternoon and don't want to spend a lot of money, head over to your local Mcdonalds with a playland!

The 'main' event of the weekend was the Little Day Out, which was held at the Edgar Center.  This was a fund raising event for all the local Kindergartens.  For all of you American readers, Kindergarten over on this side of the world is NOT the first year of school, but more like what you call Pre-School.  Kids go to Kindergarten from age 3-5 and is normally for 3-6 hours 2-4 days a week.  Bodie does not go to a Kindergarten as such b/c I work full time, instead he goes to daycare.  I am unsure what the difference is b/c I have never been to a Kindergarten.  But kindergartens have "room moms" or "committee moms' that volunteer to help in the classroom on a roster basis and help with organising all the fund raising events as well as field trip chaperones etc.  Kindergartens are also normally free or something like $5/day per kid... hence why they have to do fundraising (note: the govt gives each kid 20 free hours at a kindy/daycare once they turn 3, hence why most kids normally attend kindergarten around 20 hours a week).

Now, back to the Little Day Out.... This was very cool!  The Edgar Center is a HUGE gymnasium.  I didn't bring my coat in b/c i didn't want to keep up with it, but turns out, i'd of been happy wearing it.  So, if you go to something in the Edgar Center... dress warm!  The event had numerous stalls, obviously put on by each Kindergarten.  They were selling everything from baked goods, cotton candy, lollies/candy, used clothes, sausages.  Some had arts and crafts such as a mask making table, finger puppets and face painting, balloons.  There were two bouncy castles and a big blow up slide.  And they also had a really cool area full of numerous obstacles like jumping off a plank, balance beams, cones to run through, tunnels to crawl through.  The lady who runs the playgym was there with a few of her goodies.  One stall had a large selection of bikes and so kids could ride around on them.  It was a really neat and fun!  And even better, Bodie was able to go run to his hearts content for 3 hours and once again play with migrating flocks of 'friends'.  And to top it all off, it was indoors!!

So, my advice is to add the Edgar Center website to your search list for upcoming kid friendly things happening.

The blur is Bodie jumping off the plank.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Super Hero Disco!

Friday night was the much anticipated Super Hero Disco (party/dance party) at Bodie’s Daycare..Since it’d been anticipated since March (as it was originally scheduled for April, but postponed due to a chicken pox epidemic) it was very exciting to have the night finally arrive!  Bodie had a batman costume that his Aunty Tracey gave him one year for Christmas.  So we had to figure out what me and Si were going to be.  Since Bodie was batman, everyone knows what he needs, right?  A sidekick named ROBIN!  I decided I’d be superwoman because A) I had the jacket already so it was easy and B) Bodie’s batman outfit is reversible and can also be superman. 

Luckily I work next to a Save Mart (2nd hand clothing store) so finding the needed items wasn’t too hard – the one pictured on the home page is a few buildings down from where I work) and yes this is dangerous b/c yes I do visit it at least once a week, but at least when I need some retail therapy I only spend $15 for 3 shirts instead of $120 for ONE!. Anyways,  I went in to savemart and managed to find a green short sleeve t-shirt, red boxer shorts, red tank top and some yellow fabric for Simon’s Robin outfit.  And I found a red skirt for me to wear.  All for like $10 or something.  Simon’s mom found some green tights at a Chinese dollar store type place.

Now, I’m not the craftiest person, but luckily the Robin outfit only involved cutting out a circle, coloring in a R and sewing it on.  And then cutting the yellow cloth the right length and sewing it on in two places on the shirt.   I think the costume came together nicely!

I’m unsure how to find words for this Disco. The lights were out, the place was decorated with balloons, streamers, ‘Gotham’ city on the walls, strobe lights, lasers… it was really out of it! The music was your typical cheesy 70s stuff with a bit of wiggles and bob the builder mixed in.  The kids were very entertaining to watch dance… and dance and dance (and a bit like dogs chasing a flashlight b/c they just tried to jump on the lasers). 

I think what Batman and the rest of his Justice League loved the most was running through their playground at night and swinging on the ropes and going down the flying fox.  They chased their teachers (dressed up as The Incredible Hulk, Power Rangers and Wonder Woman, to name a few), screamed as people jumped out of shadows… it was such a cool event!

The disco went from 6 – 8 and by 7pm there were many kids having melt downs and parents shuffling them out.  Bodie himself had a meltdown b/c he got something in his eye (supposedly).  I was standing in the middle of the room with the lights blinking and the music blaring waiting on Si to finish a conversation so we could go with Bodie screaming in my ear “my eye my eye my eye” when Bodie went silent and limp… he just zonked out on me (note: I’d spent 5 minutes flushing his eye, I didn’t ignore him)!!  He woke up as we left and cried that he wanted to go back.  Mid-sentence he zonked out again.  Woke up again being put into the car, only to be zonked out 2 seconds later. 

Sorry, not really a ‘what to do in Dunedin’ blog this week.  Some pictures of the event are below!  As per last entry, sorry about the blur for photographs taken in the dark!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Rugby, Drive In and Penguins

Monday was a public holiday, Queens Birthday.  A bit odd seeing as how A) It's not really the Queen's Birthday and B) England, home of the Queen, doesn't even have a public holiday or celebrate the Queen's Birthday.  But hey, whatevs man, I'll take a day off work!

The weekend fun started with some Rugby!  Coming from North Carolina to New Zealand, I had no idea what rugby was.  Over the years I have not only begun to understand it but LOVE it!  There is just something about big burly (usually dang good lookin') men smashing into each other dripping with not only sweat, but blood!  Yes, a good game of rugby will have men dripping with blood!  Heck in the game this week a player was knocked stone cold out!  He didn't move for 5 minutes and had to be taken off on a stretcher.... and the game played on around him and the medics!

This week The Blues (Auckland Team) came down to play The Highlanders (Dunedin Team), so we (Simon, Jedi (Del, Si's stepdad) and I) had to go!  The game was in the Forsyth Stadium, the only covered stadium in NZ (!  It is a great stadium!  Not a bad seat in the house and since Dunedin is pretty cold, having it covered is fantastic!  I think it gets a lot more people out to events than would normally go if it were outdoors!  We actually had seats on the very back row, but they were awesome seats!  And best of all, since Simon was cheering very loudly for The Blues, no one could throw stuff at him!

Since Dunedin has a very strong Scottish Heritage, the team have a band marching band that plays before the start of the game.  It was way cool, so we made a video!  And I should also note that the half time show did NOT include some awful "cheerleaders" (who are really just a crap dance team that do nothing but grind on the field to clubbing music) as they have in Auckland. There was however, an escapee from "The Zoo" (R18 cheap ticket section) who streaked naked and almost got to the half way mark, before being tackled by a chicken.  True Story!  Unfortunately he was tackled with his bottom up towards us... beans and franks and all... maybe the "cheerleaders" aren't so bad after all?

During our time at the rugby game, Bodie was at a Drive-In movie with his GiGi.  The Dunedin Roller Derby team hold a fundraiser once a month at the Dunedin Ice Stadium.  They play family friendly movies and a car load is $20!  The movie is played on the side of the ice stadium (I think) and the sound can be heard on a radio station.  Although I hear that it was loud enough to hear sitting in the car w/ out the radio on.  The roller derby girls skate along to your car to sell you goodies, but they are all candy and soft drinks.  There may of been a sausage sizzle too.  I think they will be doing this again, but check eventfinda. regularly to be sure.  Be sure to pack jumper cables if you plan on listening to the movie on your radio or if you want to be a good Samaritan! 

Simon's mom saw a Facebook advertisement for watching the Blue Penguins come onto shore at Pilot Beach.  Since penguins come in to shore at nightfall, and it's winter so night fall is early, we decided to go on Sunday night!  It was a wet night, but not windy.  The tour leaves from the Royal Albatross Centre at the Otago Peninsula (approx. 45 minutes from Dunedin).  We go down a walkway stand on a platform over the beach.  You stand there and see nothing but crashing waves then all of a sudden a group of cute little blue penguins pop out onto the shore!  They are adorable!  They waddle and hop over some rocks, walk up the dunes then disappear into the night.  It was really really cool!  I think we saw about 30 penguins come in.  When they have chicks and they HAVE to come back to shore, there can be up to 70 that come in!  I think this is during the summer hours, which means they won't come to shore until around 10pm!  When walking back there are no lights just some glow in the dark stickers on the stairs and a few small red lights to mark the path.  As we were walking back we could hear the penguins calling out to each other.  It was very cool to just stop in complete darkness and listen to them and realise that at that moment I was surrounded by blue penguins!  Afterwards we ate fish and chips and drank hot chocolate.  Bodie proceeded to zonk out in the car on the way home!  Thanks GiGi and Jedi for a great night!

Since it was dark and we weren't allowed to use the flash the pictures didn't show up too well.  Plus my camera was on twilight and I really needed a tripod to hold the camera steady. 

Here's the link if you want to know more or book tickets: and if you want to know more about the royal albatross centre, which I would also highly recommend at the right time of year, you can go to here:

Waiting on the Blue Penguins to come out of the water

Me and Si in the rain waiting for the Blue Penguins
Bodie and GiGi waiting for the Blue Penguins

There they are!!

Climbing over the rocks!

Walking up the path.