Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Sutton Salt Lake

It was my birthday yesterday.  We had plans to go up to North Otago to a winery that is kid friendly, but found out the day before that it was closed for the Christmas holidays.  I woke up on my birthday and was greeted with breakfast in bed!  So nice!  And my husband had given me a picnic basket full of yummy picnic items.  The weather was looking fine outside... now, what to do?

Then, i remembered, i had been wanting to go to the salt lake that is near Middlemarch.  What is it?  Lake Sutton is the only saline lake in New Zealand, located in the arid region of central otago.  It is recharged by rainfall only and when full is only about a meter deep.  The salinity is from marine aerosols carried in rainwater from the coast about 50 km away.  The aerosols are forced into the air by wave action and carried in and deposited in the lake.  The lake does not always have water in it b/c it evaporates regularly due to the frequent exposure to wind.  The filling and evaporation over time has created a build up of marine aerosols in the lake bed, which causes the salinity when filled.  The saline environment means that a unique ecosystem has been created in the middle of an arid desert region.

So, we took off to the track, no idea what to expect we just knew it was a 4km loop that should take about an hour to walk (much longer if you go with a 4 year old who doesn't like to walk, but rather climb up on every rock).  The drive from Dunedin to Middlemarch takes about an hour and you get to drive through this amazing weathered schist landscape with orange/yellow tussock.  The parking lot was through an alfalfa field that were up to our car windows.  And low and behold, the track to the lake was through the amazing rock landscape!  The track was very easy and flat and perfect for active children who like to climb on rocks!

We got to the lake and it didn't have any water in it, but it was still cool.  We had an amazing picnic upwind of the lake (b/c it smelt like death down wind) and Bodie really enjoyed jumping/climbing on the back of the sleeping dragons (i mean rocks) and hiding from the Orcs (Lord of the Rings stuff).

Great place to go with kids b/c it is an easy walk and the scenery is so amazing!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Sea lion chase!

We went out to Allan's beach on this beautiful sunny day with light north-easterlies.  Stunning day on the beach.  The beach is known to have sea lions on it.  We got out there and there were two!  Normally they are up in the sand dunes and you can barely see them.  This time, they were down by the sea.  So we went out and sat about 20 m from one and just watched it while we ate our popcorn and Bodie made sand angels.  I noticed the sea lion we were near starting to move so i stood up to start taking pictures.

As i was taking pictures i hear someone yelling "Excuse me, Excuse me", i turn my head and i see them frantically pointing at something behind me.  I turn around and there is the biggest bull sea lion i have ever seen charging right at us.  

I about crapped my pants!  He was HUGE!  And came out of no where!  So, I turn to tell Simon (who was laying on the sand) to look out behind him but he had already turned b/c he felt the vibrations in the sand.  We realize he wasn't coming after us, he was coming after the sea lion we were photographing, we just happened to be in his path.  So, we quickly picked up our stuff and moved, while he just ran on by us and chased the sea lion into the dunes.  Then he continued running down the beach.

And he finally reached the second sea lion and chased this one into the sea.

At last he ran down the entire beach until the last sea lion was in sight.  I thought he was going to chase this one away too, but it must of been his mate.  Because this one didn't move until he was right over her and they had a romantic moment before heading off into the sea together (but they had to chase a dog off the beach first!)

Coolest wildlife experience ever!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Great Jaffa Race!

The Cadbury Chocolate Carnival was on this week in Dunedin.  I am not too sure about the history of this event, but it is put on by the Dunedin City Council and the local Cadbury Chocolate Factory to give kids something to do during the winter school holidays/intersession.  Lots of cool things are put on for the kids such as a teddy bear fashion parade of clothes made out of chocolate wrappers, magic shows, and of course the Cadbury Jaffa Race held at Baldwin Street, the steepest street in the world!  What is a Jaffa race?  Well, let me start by explaining what a Jaffa is. In New Zealand there are two, one is an acronym used by all of the 'rest' of NZ to describe Aucklanders (Just Another F*cking Aucklander).  The other is a small candy that has orange flavoured hard candy coated on a ball of chocolate.  Similar to an m&m, but in a small ball the size of a whopper or milk dud. 

So, what happens is every year raffle tickets are sold for a dollar all across nz to raise money for charaties.  Then these candies are made with numbers printed on them.  Each year the jaffas are taken up to the top of Baldwin Street and they are hurdled down the street; 25,000 at a time (candies, not aucklanders).  The jaffas bounce up really high and reach speeds of over 100 km per hour.  The first 5 jaffas to reach the bottom win prizes ($1000 grocery store voucher and $1000 petrol/gasoline voucher).  This year the charities were Make a Wish Foundation, Surf Life Saving NZ, Parents Centre NZ and $25,000 was raised for each one.

This year it was a nice sunny day so we decided to go.  Very crowded.  But it is an amazing site to see a big wall of colored jaffas bounce down a street so fast.  The noise they made was incredible!  This event is definitely one of the quaint little things I love about New Zealand!  Bodie caught a rogue Jaffa and took it home.  No, I did not let him eat it....

I wasn't able to get many photographs, but here are a few and a short video (plus there are heaps online I am sure).  Wait for the large red wave to come down.  :-) 

Newspaper article here. 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Aaaarrrrrgh. Pirates.

I don't know about your kid, but mine loves pirates!  From Captain Jack Sparrow to Jake!  So, when I heard that Captain Festus McBoyle would be porting in Dunedin and telling pirate tales for FREE at the Dunedin Public Library I knew we had to go! 

Bodie dressed up in his favourite pirate gear and arrived at the library just before it opened and waited eagerly with all the other young pirates.  The doors unlocked and it was miniature running arrrgh's through the library into the story pit where there were the best props ever to transform the pit into a pirate ship!

All the kids and parents were waiting when the music started and this real live (actually kind of scary looking) pirate arrived!  All the kids looked a bit apprehensive then he turned around and burped, which made the pit roar with laughter.  The pirate told tales and sang songs with his mates Sir William Crust and Ida Crumpet.  And one of the best things was that the 'treasure' they got was a huge bag of fruit!  Seriously, 3 mandarins, 2 bananas, 3 apples, 1 pear and a pureed fruit drink - score!

I don't know how often the library does stuff like this, but I will definitely start checking out FREE events at the Dunedin Public Library!


Monday, May 12, 2014

Dunedin Public Art Gallery

I let time slip away so I am combining two outings in the one blog.  Both of which took place at the The Dunedin Public Art Gallery.  Now, I am not a big fan of the arts and to be honest, when I go into art galleries I don't know what to do.  A picture is a picture (to me), I am not the person who can sit and find the hidden meaning in the image or a block of concrete.  But I heard about two really cool exhibits on at the Dunedin Art Gallery and decided to check it out.   

The first exhibit was from a Korean artist Seung Yul Oh.  I can't go into the philosophy of this exhibit but I can tell you it was interactive and it was FUN (you can read about it here)!  I will post pictures about the 'meaning' of these exhibits but first I will just tell you what it was to our family.

The first room was dark, had flat screen TV's of rivers and then there was these HUGE boulders.  But they were big semi-deflated balls or bean bags.  We had a blast! Bodie would manage to climb to the top of one and Simon would jump onto the side and Bodie would fly off into the air and land on another one, where I would jump on it and he would fly off in another direction.  It was so much fun, so much laugher and even a work out!  The next room was filled up with these big huge cylindrical balloons.  And there were so many it was like a maze.  you went in and you got lost and really disorientated.  I think we spent an hour in the balloons playing hide-and-seek or chase or something.  So a super awesome and fun exhibit that took up a good 2-3 hours of our time! 

The next exhibit is called the cubic structural evolution project, which is basically a huge table with thousands of white legos (you can read about it here).  It is a hard thing to fathom really.  A huge table, thousands of lego and long bench seats with dozens of people using their imaginations and constructing some really cool things.  A lot of towers that had amazing patterns I never would have thought to create.  Bodie and I made a house with an indoor pool. :-)  We stayed there an hour, easy.  This exhibit is still on, so if you haven't already, check it out!

I have concluded that Art Gallery's aren't lame, in fact, the Dunedin Art Gallery is far from lame, it is an amazing place where a lot of learning takes place.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Rakiura (Stewart Island), the far mild south

Easter holiday in Dunedin was extra long this year.  We decided to cross a trip off of the bucket list and organised a trip to Stewart Island.  Stewart Island is an island located 30 km across the Foveaux Strait from Bluff (South Island).  The town of Oban is the only town and just under 400 people live on Stewart Island. 

The original Māori name, Te Punga o Te Waka a Maui, positions Stewart Island / Rakiura firmly at the heart of Māori mythology. Translated as The Anchor Stone of Maui’s Canoe, it refers to the part played by the island in the legend of Maui and his crew, who from their canoe, the South Island, caught and raised the great fish, the North Island.

We went over with my in-laws, rented a bach/crib for 6 nights and had a great time!  We were all expecting it to be freezing cold with Scottish drizzle... my were we surprised!  Now, we did have some drizzle, but it was no where near as cold and some days were actually hot! 

What is there to do you ask?  Well, there is seriously something for everyone!  We had a 4 year old in tow, so we did not do any of the big tramps (hikes).  But for those who love tramping and the great outdoors there are numerous trails that are anywhere from 30 minutes to 5 days long!  What we chose to do with a 4 year old is the following:

Saturday we went into town and it just so happened they had an Easter Fair on.  This consisted of a cake/bake sale, sausage sizzle and a huge easter egg dig.  $2 registration fee and at 11am the under 5s had a pit and the over 5s had a pit and the kids got to digging for these pink tags with number written on them.  When I kid found a number they turned it in and got a chocolate.  This was no easy task.  We dug for a good half an hour to an hour and found two tags.  They then announced that there was 8 left in each pit.  I think everyone gave up! 

One day we spent on Ulva Island.  These was a 5 minute ferry across Patterson Inlet.  Ulva island is a nature reserve (both land and sea).  For so long there were no predators in NZ, therefore, most of the native birds are either flightless and/or sleep/nest on the ground.  A lot of work has been undertaken to rid the island of predators such as possums and rats.  This allows the bird life to flourish!  There are many birds on this island that you can find no where else in NZ.  Now, the 'problem' with this island and a 4-year old is that you have to walk everywhere and you have to BE QUIET! Even though we did have a 4 year old pretty much incapable of being quiet, we saw a lot of birds and Bodie made friends with one of the rarest birds on the planet (a native NZ robin) and this robin followed him around. It was pretty cute. Not so cute convincing him to walk on...

We booked a fishing charter and went out fishing for a couple of hours. The sea is crystal clear down there, the fish are huge and there are a lot of them! Fishing is what people do for their livelihoods! We found a charter that allowed pre-schoolers (free) called Leask Bay Charters . They were awesome! They provided the fishing lines, baited your hook for you, took the fish off and fileted it for you to take home and eat! It was a beautiful sunny, flat sea day and we had a great day!

Other things we did were play board games, feed the kakas on our deck, fish off the wharfs (or feed the fish, I should say), play on the playground, go to the museum, roam through the bush around the house.... I could go on and on. But, it is a great little place and definitely worth the trip! To get there you have to make your way to Invercargill. Where you can either fly or take the ferry (from Bluff). Flights are 20 minutes, ferry is 1 hour.

Easter Egg Dig
Kaka on the porch eating from our hands!

A rare flightless native bird called a Weka.

Ulva Island, all tuckered out after 4 hours of walking!

All tuckered out after a big week and an early rise.