Archive for the ‘Travel in Australasia’ Category

I kept an eye on Dunedin ‘Grab one’ while we were planning a trip, and I grabbed an offer of a 20″ pizza for $25, reduced from $45.  It was at Biggies, just a couple of blocks from our hotel, and Stephen loves pizza.  We went in to book, and found we couldn’t.  During the day this same establishment becomes The Eatery Café.  A sophisticated till system means they can share the same bar stock and know exactly who’s sold what and when, so they remain two completely separate businesses.  It makes sense to ensure the premises are used day and night.


The Eatery doesn’t take Biggies’ bookings, but we booked by phone and duly arrived at 7pm.  It was a pleasant evening and we hoped to sit outside at a pavement table but the waitress explained that those tables aren’t stable enough to hold the stand for the giant pizza.  We therefore chose an inside table.

Our choice from an extensive pizza range was Pavarotti, with mushroom, capsicum, and pepperoni.  This duly arrived and looked huge.


Freshly cooked on a thin base it was delicious but daunting, and we managed to eat only three-quarters.  I rejected most of the pepperoni, relishing the capsicum and mushrooms.  The waitress offered to put the remainder in a box for us which we declined as we had nowhere to store it.  I hope it went to some deserving animals.

Biggies was buzzing and popular.  I think the 20″ pizzas might be more suitable for a group of hungry students.

“To serve such pizza on a table
this needs to be extremely stable.”


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The Christchurch “Press” is an indispensable part of my daily routine.  I love to catch up on local news (usually over breakfast), check the death notices and do the puzzles (usually over lunch).  The Cryptic Crossword, Code-Cracker, Wordfit, and Number Cruncher are mine.  Stephen does the other word puzzles.  The Sudoku are left to languish – neither of us has yet been tempted to these.

When away from home we still seek a “Press”.  In Wellington that’s no problem.  In Auckland Whitcoulls stocks it, and we assumed the same would apply in Dunedin.  Sadly, no!  Whitcoulls in George Street was closed at 9.15am because they were mopping up from the previous day’s downpour.  We went back after 10am, confidently seeking our “Press”, only to be told they don’t carry it and neither does any other shop in Dunedin.  The Whitcoulls woman told me the “Press” has not been sent to Dunedin for the past three years.  I wondered whether this was because of rivalry between Fairfax and the independent “Otago Daily Times”, but she didn’t think so.  The Dunedin Public Library doesn’t have a hard copy of the “Press” either, although they have a dedicated terminal where you can read it online.  That doesn’t give me access to the puzzles!

“I may endure puzzle withdrawal
if I can’t get a “Press” at all.”

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Love the Library

Our hotel wifi was totally inadequate.  The place was fully booked and it appears the system just can’t cope with that.  Luckily the Dunedin Public Library wasn’t far from our hotel and has excellent free internet access.  You book for 30 minutes, and if there’s no-one waiting you are continually offered an extra five minutes – this happened four times for me.

The library building is comparatively new and replaced an older Carnegie building.  (Sigh, I have a very soft spot for Carnegie Libraries having benefitted from them in my youth.)  I was struck by the amazing variety of artwork inside.  They even have a pamphlet of the Library Art Trail.  It all made me long for the time when Christchurch will have a new Central Library.  At least work on the site has started and it should be completed sometime next year.

“Dunedin library made me jealous.
I hope our building folk are zealous.”

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At the Little River Craft Station the women’s toilet was in darkness, so I switched on the light.  This sign then caught my eye.


I wondered if the Lake Flies were attracted by light, like moths?  A man in the shop told me that while light would bring them, you might meet a cloud of them anywhere.  I understand that they are what I have previously known as midges.  They are native flying insects, and do not bite, having no mouth parts.  Their larvae are known as blood worms and feed on decaying matter found on lake beds.  I was happy not to encounter a swarm of them.

Inside the craft station was another unusual sign, promoting the Little River Trap Library.


In a rural area such a facility must be very welcome.  Good that these traps are available free of charge, a project of the Little River Wairewa Community Trust. (The shop man said he hadn’t known anyone to take a photo of the sign previously.)

“Natural challenges are rife
for those who choose the country life.”

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With an Australian nephew visiting briefly, a day trip to Akaroa was our intention.  We stopped at the Little River Craft Station, where Paul, who’s a telecommunications engineer, was intrigued by the antique switchboard.


In Akaroa he was even more intrigued by a KTM vehicle.


KTM usually make racing motorbikes, but this was definitely a sports car.  The full face helmets and body harness suggest it might be capable of going very fast, and I’ve learned it’s the first four-wheeled model in KTM’s history.  I was told that no windscreen or canopy are required because if it rains you’re going so fast the raindrops don’t reach you!

We lunched on fresh fish and chips on the Akaroa wharf while we watched tenders from the cruise ship Noordam travelling back and forth.


One of the commercial boats had a sea-faring dog.


The Akaroa Lighthouse light was flashing intermittently, something I’ve not seen before.


We drove up to look more closely and found the lighthouse is open to visitors, 12.30-3.30pm on Sundays and cruise ship days.  By now it was 4pm, so we were too late to go inside.

On the drive home, we were very nearly involved in an accident.  Rounding a bend, a car ahead of us went over to the wrong side of the road, and almost crashed into an oncoming vehicle which was towing a boat.  The erring driver, who just managed to return to the left hand side, was Asian and the car was from Apex Car Rentals.  We followed them cautiously for a short distance, when they turned in a driveway and headed back towards Akaroa.  It was some time before we had sufficient cellphone coverage to be able to report the incident to the *555 Roadwatch line.

“A day in Akaroa – bliss
not so good – a car crash near miss.”

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Real Rangiora

Rangiora is a joy to visit because it has real shops – such a change from soulless malls.


Many of them are in refurbished old buildings.


Part of the library is the old Council chambers, and it has a magnificent ceiling.

Library ceiling

Library ceiling

Local homes are a mixture of very new and attractively old.



Oakleigh was once the home of Major-General Sir Howard Kippenberger who was Editor-in-chief  of New Zealand’s War Histories.


One appeal of travelling north to Rangiora is that you get to see lambs, although these ones were nearly full grown.

It’s easy to understand why so many people chose to move to Rangiora after the earthquakes.  It’s a very attractive town.

“I can see why this town would be
a most attractive place to flee.”



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Riding on a steam train at the Weka Pass Railway is a real treat.  Yesterday afternoon a group of us took advantage of a clear day to enjoy an excursion across the Canterbury countryside.

Weka Pass Steam Train

Weka Pass Steam Train

The journey from Waipara to Waikari  (11km) takes about half an hour, with a stop part way for a photo opportunity.  The scenery is beautiful and includes spectacular limestone formations.

Canterbury countryside

Canterbury countryside

When you reach Waikari, the engine is manually turned ready for the return journey.

Turning the engine

Turning the engine

This railway is run entirely by volunteers, who are dedicated to preserving New Zealand’s railway heritage.  It’s like a colonial cousin of the Orient Express.

I did the same ride in 2012, and there are more photographs on my blog about this.

“It’s fun to take a ride by train
and I was pleased to go again.”

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