The Year of the Snake

So I went with a friend to the Chinese Gardens and made another photo journal of the trip!

Blue skies and clear water

Blue skies and clear water

I’ve always enjoyed my trips to the Chinese Garden over the years, it was one of the first places I visited when I first arrived in Dunedin. This may be in no small part due to the Tea House, their set menu is a bargain, and the lychee tea is my favourite.

Lychee tea for two, perfect way to spend an non-windy afternoon!

Lychee tea for two, perfect way to spend an non-windy afternoon!

So if you have for some reason not been yet, by all means do. Stop in for a cup of tea, sample the set menu, enjoy the peaceful and tranquil spaces, play around in the rock garden, and have some calm fun!

The photo journal can be found here at the blogs imgur account


Toitū & Immersing Oneself in the Past

Photo Journal time again! This time it’s Toitū, Otago Settlers Museum. Toitū was reopened last December, and has been a local success since.

Inside the entrance of Toitū

Inside the entrance of Toitū

With various displays, ranging from Maori explorers and first settlers, to what the future of this little city could be it’s quite the experience. It also features the latest in interactive museum exhibit technology, with touchscreen interactive displays located throughout the museum.

First Great City interactive display

First Great City interactive display

There is also a research centre where anyone can research Toitū’s collections on Dunedin and it’s inhabitants. There is even a small section on Creative Cities!

Creative Dunedin - The story of Dunedin's literary past

Creative Dunedin – The story of Dunedin’s literary past

All in all a fun place to go for an hour, or an afternoon, however much time you have! It can be a learning experience if you want it to be, or it can simply be a good place to immerse yourself in the city’s past.

The photo journal can be found here on the blogs imgur site

Away at Sea: How to Feed the Blues Some Sole

Apologies for the title, couldn’t resist the opportunity.

I was lucky enough to grab a last minute ticket to the Port Chalmers Seafood Festival. If truth be told I only really discovered I actually enjoy seafood a when I moved to New Zealand in 2010, living in a landlocked area of Middle England results in not the best options in terms of fresh and quality seafood. So thanks to my newfound appreciation for food found in vast bodies of water the opportunity to try fresh, well prepared and delicious varieties of seafood was not one to be missed!

Before I popped along to the festival I paid a quick visit to my favourite weekly market, the Otago farmers Market.

Stalls along the platform at the Otago Farmers Market

Stalls along the platform at the Otago Farmers Market

Resplendent with fresh, tasty food option all made by local producers, and local preserves, drinks, foodstuffs, and even plants. I had already had breakfast however, so did not indulge in my usual bacon buttie from Bacon Buttie Man.

Breakfast Heaven, curtesy of Bacon Buttie Man

Breakfast Heaven, curtesy of Bacon Buttie Man

A ticket for the festival included a free bus ride to Port Chalmers and back, which was very much appreciated and utilised by myself.

Luckily i took a quick picture of my ticket because it got taken away when I arrived at the festival!

Luckily I took a quick picture of my ticket because it got taken away when I arrived at the festival!

Upon arrival my ticket was exchanged for a green bracelet to let the bars know it was ok to serve me alcoholic beverages. The Port Otago A-Shed held the majority of stalls, offering a large variety of tasty seafood.

A-Shed entrance, full of people and stalls

A-Shed entrance, full of people and stalls

While outside was the Classic Hits stage, cooking demonstration tent, and children’s tent, a few more food stalls and some fishing information stalls all looked out onto the water.

The Classic Hits stage was behind the white tent on the left.

The Classic Hits stage was behind the white tent on the left.

I bumped into some of my tutors which was really nice as I had gone on my own. One of them had brought their family along with them, and in the spirit of curiosity I embarked into the children’s tent with them. The pirates, Festus McBoyle and his friend, were in fact remarkably entertaining considering I was at least 15 years above the intended age group.

Festus McBoyle and his friend I think named Crusty Carbunkle

Festus McBoyle and his friend I think named Crusty Carbunkle

After this some of my friends from uni turned up and I went and ate with them. I ate a really wonderful Garlic Prawn Bap thanks to the Otago Polytechnic Culinary Arts students, followed by a very tasty Salmon Pattie from Gilbert’s Fine Foods, I washed those down with two glasses of the Gibbston Valley Gold River Pinot Gris before finishing off my day with Calamari Rings from Fish Hook.

On our way our we checked out a couple of the stalls inside A-Shed, the one that caught my eye was The Naked Scotsman

The Naked Scotsman Stall

The Naked Scotsman Stall

Their selection was impressive, and the whiskey butter simply delicious, if I hadn’t spent my last $5 on some special salt I would have bought a pot of it, it really was wonderful!

I had a really wonderful time and am looking forward to next year, and possibly being able to take some of my friend who I know love seafood.

A Not So Scarfie Week

SO while this blog is usually my write ups of the various places to visit and things to do in Dunedin that involve creativity, I’ve never really described them in the context of my life as a student at the university. So I thought this post could remedy that; I present my week as a student in Dunedin.


In the average scarfie week Thursday night is one of two nights to have a bit of a party and go to town (clubbing) before heading home and invariably consuming either Surfin Slices or MacDonalds while on your way. However, I have maybe been out on a Thursday twice this year. So once again, I was at home working.


Friday is usually a quieter night, everyone is saving their energy for Saturday night. However, my friends and I had a BYO at Manilla Grill, where I was intrigued to discover they actually offer karaoke! Keen to have a go at some late 80s classics my friends found the courage in their respective bottles of red and white!

After we had finished our meal and the antics offered at Manilla Grill we headed to Refuel. Tucked away on the corner of the Union building on campus, and underground, Refuel features live music most week nights, this Friday was local band Two Cartoons headlining. Two Cartoons : Get Happy Black Friday w/ Friends featured a fair few local bands, MalesAstro ChildrenErnesto AnemoneDeux Enfants, and DJ Tom Tremewan supporting the headline act before their set.

Astro Children's set, I thought their set was really good!

Astro Children’s set, I thought their set was really good!

Two Cartoons set was good, I had a really good night, although at this point I was on my third/fourth drink of the night and details get a little fuzzy. We got a taxi home, and went to sleep!


Dunedin held its first (and hopefully annual!) Craft Beer & Food Festival at the Forsyth Barr Stadium. Now as an eternally poor student I actually scored a job at one of the stalls thanks to my flatmate also having the same job. I was working for local brewery Green Man, I got a really awesome shirt for my uniform and my pass as a stall worker to wear for the day!

Green Man top and Festival Stall pass!

Green Man top and Festival Stall pass!

The festival ended up being a really fun place to work, and when we wrapped up we got Churros as a treat, and as anyone who has followed my adventures this year will know, they are my favourite!

After I had finished working and the festival was closing up, I left to go to a friends party, it was a good night and we all enjoyed ourselves.


Sunday is universally accepted in Dunedin as recovery day. I spend mine having a lie in, watching TV, and catching up with my friends. Occasionally if the next week is going to be a busy one I might even get some work done, that is a rare occasion though, and this Sunday was not an exception to my usual pattern.

Monday and Tuesday

I spend these days working on my various papers and assignments, unless its someones birthday I don’t really get up to much these nights. It was nobodies birthday, and hence I spent it being studious.


Refuel hosts its weekly Pint Night on Wednesdays, and my friends band was playing there too. So after using Velvet Burger‘s new weekly Grababurger vouchers for dinner, and meeting up with friends before going to Refuel, we finally arrived at Pint Night for the $4 pints.

The music part of the night – Independant Records Presents: ink Mathematics, Ded Sparrows & Paul cathro Feat. Alex Vaatstra – was really good, I think it was one of my best music experiences at Refuel in ages.

I got to hear Ded Sparrows set thankfully, and I really liked their music.

Ded Sparrows jamming away.

Ded Sparrows jamming away.

ded sparrows 2

My friends band was the headline act, Ink Mathematics. They played a fantastic set and kept the audience entertained throughout. The lead singer has a really engaging act and connects with the audience. All round great night and a great set by Ink Mathematics, my friend played an awesome set!

Goku was apparently playing drums, although he was sporting a new haircut!

Goku was apparently playing drums, although he was sporting a new haircut!


The lead singer was really engaging, spoke to me and my friend at the end, nicest guy.


Ink Mathematics, if you get a chance to see them take it, they were amazingly good!

And so there it is, my not so scarfie week!

Spring in Pink, Red, and Green!

Finally, I have managed to complete the second part of my photo journal!

The first of many pathways through the gardens.

The upper part of the Botanical Gardens is vast, and remarkably easy to get lost in, particularly the Rhododendron Dell! It is also one of the few places with flowering plants at this time of the year. And they are vibrant colours! Although the most common colour is green at the moment.

Pink Rhododendron Blooms

Once you leave the top part of the Rhododendron Dell, you enter through into a maze of woodland passages. You can catch glimpses of Logan Park, the central city area, and the university campus. When you finally find your way out, and that can be quite hard as there are no signs in the deepest part of the woodland tracks, you can connect back down to the South African garden and the onto the Aviary.

Rocko is always a friendly guy whenever I visit the Aviary

The Aviary is home to a large number of native and exotic birds, some of who make taking their picture easy and some who just aren’t feeling quite so co-operative!

It roughly took me around an hour and a half to navigate this sojourn through the upper part of the gardens. If you missed out the woodland tracks you could probably manage it in under an hour though. And now, after covering both parts of the gardens, a short review!

The gardens are one of my favourite places in Dunedin, if you want a quiet place to read a book, meet up with friends, have a coffee, get lunch, its a great place. If you’re feeling more adventurous, all the walks offer something different, and the birds are always fun to visit! With the gardens celebrating their 150th anniversary this year, each month they are hosting talks on horticulture and other areas relevant to the botanical gardens. A sculpture has also been commissioned, the winner has been selected and the concept work can be viewed in the information centre. The history of the place itself is interesting, from the founding through to the future developments. i particularly enjoy how many cultures and countries are represented across the gardens (the Geographic Collection). Maybe it’s because I only moved here 4 years ago, and feel  welcomed by the diverse communities that are present in Dunedin that the gardens has chosen to include.

At the end of the day, it’s still my favourite place in Dunedin, whatever the weather. The Imgur album for the journal can be found here

I hope this encourages you to go on your own adventures in the upper garden

A Short Jaunt In The Gardens

Two ducks taking a nap at the botanical gardens.

Two ducks taking a nap at the botanical gardens.

The Dunedin Botanic Garden has been open for 150 years this year. It happens to be my favourite place in Dunedin, even if the weather is bad, as it often is. The gardens are massive, so I decided to do a short photo journal of my 40 minute long tour of the lower half of them. I thought I’d just put a few of my favourite images here though. This will be followed by a photo journal of the upper half of the gardens for my next post.

The Otaru Tien - developed to celebrate Dunedin's Sister City relationship with Otaru, Japan, and Otago provinces 150th anniversary.

The Otaru Teien – developed to celebrate Dunedin’s Sister City relationship with Otaru, Japan, and Otago provinces 150th anniversary.

The Otaru Teien

The Otaru Teien

Looking right as you cross the bride to the Teien

Looking right as you cross the bridge to the Teien

Water of Leith

Water of Leith

The Rockery. I think this is my favourite photograph I took.

The Rockery. I think this is my favourite photograph I took.

Overview of the gardens from the top of the rockery.

Overview of the gardens from the top of the rockery.

The imgur album for the photo journal can be found here.

Solo by Jon Thom

'Untitled IV'

‘Untitled IV’

As some on you may remember, I have already posted about Jon on this blog before. However, this Saturday Jon had his second showing at The Artist’s Room for his collection, Solo.

Solo focuses more on facial expressions and individual characters than Jon’s previous collection. Again, the calibre of his work allows you to connect with the individuals in his portraits. The deep velvet textures he creates from using pressed black chalk adds serious depth and feeling to his work, it feels like you have an immediate emotional connection to the portrait you are looking at.

Jon on the right with some fans of his work.

Jon on the right with some fans of his work.

The baleful eyes of his latest work, as they look directly at the viewer, make it feel as if you are having a kind of conversation with the subjects; particularly ‘Daisy’ aptly named after the subject herself, Daisy Lowe.



Solo is on for the next two weeks at the Artist’s Room, and with three pieces already having sold before the opening I’d recommend getting there before the show wraps up. After the show concludes some pieces will remain, but Solo really should be viewed as a collection.

When I was there I think the best way I could describe how it made me feel was the montage scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, where they are going round the Art Galleries (video clip here). A meaningful, if not completely understood connection happens when viewing Solo, I felt like I almost knew the subjects.

LEft to Right - 'Untitled III', 'Laugh' and 'Untitled IV'

LEft to Right – ‘Untitled III’, ‘Laugh’ and ‘Untitled IV’

A specially commissioned piece by Jon is also on display in the building, its a huge wall sized canvas painting, I heard Jon describe how tricky it was to incorporate the blue tint into his process, as the charcoal he draws with would get smudged by the blue paint. Knowing how hard he worked on that piece and the scale of it, it definitely makes you stop and think when you seen it. It’s located on the second floor of 2 Dowling Street, above The Artist’s Room.

'Laughter' 'or 'Smile'. Jon's largest piece of work in size to date

‘Laughter’ ‘or ‘Smile’. Jon’s largest piece of work in size to date

So to summarise, get along to The Artist’s Room to see some wonderfully evocative and velvet textured work from a young man with a real talent.

My Imgur album of the collection can be viewed here. The Artist’s Room facebook page is also here. Jon’s Artist’s page is also here.



Eureka! t-shirt all the finalists were given, I love mine.

So while this blog is about Dunedin, it is also about me, just a little bit at least. Over a week ago I went to Wellington as a finalist of the Eureka! Symposium. I was selected a few months ago along with 11 other finalists, from both secondary and tertiary institutions across the country. The Eureka! Symposium is the platform for the Sir Paul Callaghan Awards for Young Science Orators, each finalist had to give a twelve minute presentation on their topic, and then there was four minutes of questions from the judges. Sounds simple enough. I wish.

In reality, preparing for the presentation took me around 2 to 3 weeks of work. With three days of intensive preparation of rehearsing, and rehearsing, and rehearsing my presentation to my science mentor and other members of staff with ten minutes to spare. And I still felt under-prepared on the day. Public speaking has never really been something I had felt confident doing, I still would not say that I even enjoy it, but it is one of the most important forms of communication. When I finish university and get a job, I will have to pitch ideas to clients. As much as I may want to just to have these great concepts and ideas in my head, a desire and ability to get them down on paper before I make them something physical and tangible I need to be able to explain them to other people to get anywhere with them.

And so I force myself at every opportunity to do public speaking in whatever form it may be, so I get better at it and, eventually I hope, no longer find it so scary! Eureka! was a perfect opportunity at doing exactly that, and even better to a willing audience who wanted to listen to what I had to say.

I had a wonderful two and a half days in Wellington. I met some really passionate science communicators, along with many people in industry who I would have never felt able to sustain a conversation with, let alone that they would be interested in my opinions on science education and communication. My greatest surprise was just how many people enjoyed my presentation. I thought it was good but I never expected so many people, important people especially, to have actually enjoyed it so much that they wanted to come and speak to me personally to tell me! Kim Hill liked my presentation.

So while I won a Sir Paul Callaghan Merit Award, with Sebastian Hallum Clarke taking the Highly Commended Secondary School Runner Up Award, Lara Sweetapple taking the Highly Commended Undergraduate Runner Up Award and Evan Brenton-Rule taking the Premier Award, I wasn’t even disappointed, because New Zealand’s most well respected broadcaster liked my presentation.

Me and fellow finalist Ratu Mataira

Me and fellow finalist Ratu Mataira – Photography by Hayley Smith

Oh, and I forgot to mention, I met the Governor-General and had dinner at Government House!

Eureka! Group Shot

Eureka! Group Shot – Photography by Hayley Smith

So please, go watch the finalist presentations, they were all phenomenal. Also, Evans interview with Kim can be found here

Dunedin Midwinter Carnival

The Dunedin Midwinter Carnival has been held annually in Dunedin since 1997. This years theme was ‘Journey’s of Discover’ and the lanterns were simply amazing. I went along with some friends to watch the precession and soak up the atmosphere of Midwinter Solstice. We had a fantastic time, and the festivities were very enjoyable. The stalls that lined the central Octagon were selling food and drinks, all of which smelt amazing.


HMS Endeavour Lantern

The Dunedin Medieval Society was offering Mulled Wine and Cider, and serving in costume none the less! Unfortunately I had driven and only had so much cash (I will be better prepared next year!). So we decided to just get some Churros, and they were definitely a winner for us.

I am always my happiest when I have food!

I am always my happiest when I have food!

After the precession had finished there were fireworks, followed by live music from Tahu & The Tahakes, all of whom were dressed suitably for the event and weather! There was also a fire poi performance, which was quite enjoyable.

Tahu & The Takahes

Tahu & The Takahes

For me though, I think my favourite memory will be all the kids from the precession running around, followed quickly by their parents, dutifully carrying their children’s lanterns for future posterity.

Sailing on to the next adventure!

Sailing on to the next adventure!

The album for my photos can be found here.

Audacious Top 40 Awards

Award Ceremonies always have such wonderful mood lighting!

Award Ceremonies always have such wonderful mood lighting!

Thursday night was the 9th annual Audacious Top 40 Awards, having participated in the competition last year I volunteered myself to go help set up the event and help out the wonderful audacious team. Setting up was fun, I got to move some really cool furniture around, have a good natter to my friends, and better still I got to have a look round the newly renovated Sargood Centre.

Before the Sargood Centre, as it is now named, the buildings original purpose was as an Art Gallery for the New Zealand & South Seas International Exhibition that Dunedin held in 1925. After the exhibit closed, the building was purchased by Mr and Mrs P R Sargood (the inspiration for the buldings new name), who bestowed it to the city, it was then the cities Art Gallery until a new one was later built nearer the city centre, and until 2011 was home to the New Zealand Academy of Sport. It’s current incarnation as the Sargood Centre makes it a hub for the Otago Polytechnic Institute of Sport and Adventure and Sport Otago.

So with that little history lesson, I’ll get back to the main event, Audacious. The Audacious Awards is a student entrepreneurship competition, open to Otago Polytechnic and Otago University students and is sponsored by Upstart, WHK and the Dunedin City Council. Running across both semesters,  the Top 40 Awards mark the end of stage one of the competition, only competitors awarded a Top 40 place can continue on into stage two of the competition.

Now, I’m quite fond of this competition, I actually competed last year and won a special category award! However my former glory is not the reason I am so fond of it, it’s the sense of community I got from the other competitors, the audacious team, and the people who devote their time and energy into helping out with the competition. I made some great friends last year, and I also got to know that I could achieve so much more that I had ever expected of myself. That award was the first thing I had ever won in my life. I was 21 and I had just realised I had the potential and ability to make something of my life. It was fantastic, but it would not have been possible without all the time, effort and help from the people I met through Audacious.

Now while Audacious is a business competition, it’s about innovative ideas. You can’t have an innovative business idea without a large dollop of creativity, and from the brief descriptions of the winners last night, there were some really creative ideas and businesses out there.

Full house inside the Sargood Centre

Full house inside the Sargood Centre

I thoroughly enjoyed myself on Thursday night, I wish all the Top 40 winners luck in the next stage of the competition, I truly hope you have as much fun as I did last year.

And just for laughs, here on page 7, is the Critic article on last years stage two award ceremony.