Little Libraries

Little libraries in New Zealand can be as small as a few metres squared or as little as the pile of books to be read beside the bed.

One of the sweetest small libraries I’ve seen is Puhoi Town Library, north of Auckland. The building was originally an office for the Roads Board but became a library in 1923. However in April 1924 a flood washed away most of the books and the library wasn’t re-established for over 50 years.

The library has a unique claim to fame in that it featured in Stephen King’s 1992 movie ‘Tommyknockers’ as the … Read the rest

Dunedin Street Art

The last time we were in Dunedin I photographed and wrote about the art work on bus shelters on Otago Peninsula. Two years on, there are more than 25 walls of art in Dunedin city. Much of the art work was facilitated by Dunedin Street Art  volunteers who have helped bring art and artists into the streets.

You can find the street art at random or download a Street Art Trail map, or pick up a copy from the i-SITE on The Octagon. A two hour Street Art Tour may also be an option (ask at the i-SITE). We … Read the rest

Tropical Forest at Otago Museum

The temperature can drop below zero during a Dunedin winter but one place you’re guaranteed to keep warm is in the Tropical Forest at Otago Museum. On the day I was there it was a balmy 35.8 degrees celsius with 64% humidity, I can confirm that’s not enough humidity to make your hair frizz.

Butterflies are the main attraction in the Tropical Forest and they arrive in New Zealand in chrysalis form from breeders in Costa Rica and the Philippines. At 11am every day you can see what they call ‘first flight’ which is when the newly emerged butterflies are … Read the rest

Dunedin Chinese Garden

The Dunedin Chinese Garden was built to acknowledge the contribution that Chinese people have made to Dunedin and Otago, many arrived during the Otago Gold Rush in the 1860’s. “Lan Yuan” is the Chinese name for the garden and it was designed and built as a Scholar’s Garden. Opened in 2008, the garden is unusual in that it is an authentic Chinese Garden, one of only a few outside China.

What’s an authentic Chinese Garden? It’s built by Chinese builders and artisans using traditional methods, and all above ground materials come from China. In keeping with that, all of the … Read the rest

Street Art – Dunedin Bus Shelters

Artist John Noakes (1938-2006) painted murals on 65 bus shelters in Dunedin. The photos below were taken as we drove around Otago Peninsula. The bus shelters got me thinking about how creativity can be applied to necessary and functional structures in our environment. Why do bus shelters need to be so uniform when they can be a canvas for flying pigs?

Mr Noakes had the idea to paint bus shelters when he was on a bus travelling to work, it was raining, and he saw children huddling in the Company Bay shelter. The children looked miserable and he thought their … Read the rest

Steampunk HQ in Oamaru

Steampunk HQ is a collision between a wreckers yard, a horror movie and fertile imaginations. I received a very enthusiastic introduction, what I would see was going to ‘blow my mind’, it sort of did, but I’m still wondering if it was in a good way. All the adjectives like unusual, bizarre and weird apply. The works are described as industrial steampunk, anything goes, it’s all about creative imagination. This is what happens when some people let their creative imagination run riot ………

It felt good to step forward in time and step outside ….

I felt like a cup … Read the rest

Oamaru Steampunk Festival

We’re intrigued by steampunk and the stars aligned for us to be in Oamaru for the annual Steampunk Festival. We’re still not entirely sure what steampunk is but for now I’ll go with ‘how those from the Victorian era would have imagined the future’.

It’s open to interpretation and that’s part of the intrigue, and the fun. One of the highlights of the festival for us was steampunk fashion. There were some exceptional outfits, and unlike ourselves who only had one outfit for the weekend, many people wore different clothes and accessories to each event.

We were initially self conscious … Read the rest

Oamaru – where beer was once more popular than water

Prior to 1880 it was easier to get a beer in Oamaru than it was to get a decent glass of water. In the late 1800’s there were a few breweries, 17 hotels and 32 unlicensed grog shops to quench the local thirst.

These days Oamaru’s water supply gets good grades, and although Prohibition stopped the beer flowing for over 50 years, today you can get a beer in two hotels that served the locals in the 1880’s – The Criterion and Brydone Hotel* (formerly Queen’s Hotel).

The hotels are just two of the many impressive limestone buildings … Read the rest

Stable Stay – Larnach Castle, Dunedin

My first castle stay was at Bolebroke Castle in England. I was living in the UK at the time and had been to a few castles so thought I knew what a castle looked like. I was surprised when we pulled in to Bolebroke Castle – it looked like a big house, if there was a tower it was easily mistaken for a chimney. One of Bolebrook Castle’s claims to fame is that it was reputedly used as a hunting lodge by Henry VIII when he courted Anne Boleyn. Anne Boleyn lived in nearby Hever Castle, she definitely had … Read the rest

Jaffa racing….sort of

Every year in July thousands of giant jaffas used to race down Baldwin Street in Dunedin as part of the Cadbury Chocolate Carnival, however Cadbury World has now closed. The jaffas raced down New Zealand’s steepest street to raise money for charity, each race had around 25,000 numbered jaffas! We decided to hold a race on a more modest scale – one packet of jaffas.

Media turned out in unprecedented numbers 😉 to record the event. I can imagine the comments from the couch when watching the home video – weird woman, and losing marbles may be mentioned. Although as … Read the rest