13 October 2009


100 Somerville sold to investors in October, who are renting it out. Last we heard they had paved and painted it, and we know they loved the gardens and renovations we had done. Hopefully the tenants will keep the food trees growing.. sad to let it go. Bye bye 100. Bye bye Dunedin.


We moved to Canberra on 1st October. Renting a nice old house in Turner, have a vege garden in already, living round the corner from old friends. Canberra is easy living if you can afford it.

22 September 2009


We're having a baby. Here's a video of an ultrasound view 19 weeks in.

10 September 2009

100 Somerville is up for sale

Do you fancy buying a sunny, warm, fully fenced house on a large section with edible gardens?

Then maybe you'd be interested in buying 100 Somerville.

A character filled two story ex-state home with modern touches including a new kitchen, open plan living, large deck for outdoor entertaining, dark floorboards and French doors.

Situated in the suburb of Andersons Bay and perched ontop of the hill, the house gets plenty of all day sun (including winter) to keep you cosy.

The main open plan living and kitchen area has excellent sun, a wood burner (which can be used for cooking) and a scope electric heater.


- Large 876m2 section
- New modern kitchen
- Open plan kitchen/dining/lounge area
- 3 bedrooms
- Fireplace
- Scope heater
- Large deck with french doors into kitchen
- L shaped deck size 9 by 3.5 meters, and 4 by 3 meters
- 2 Awnings (both roughly 10m2 each)
- 1 bathroom
- Instant gas hot water
- Good water pressure
- Full all day sun
- Insulated ceiling and floor
- Native and food gardens
- Laundry off deck
- Fully fenced and secure for pets and children
- Backyard facing bush strip
- Offers over $195,000

This property has room for improvement and your personal touch - a new exterior coat of paint will have this place finished nicely.

This home has so much to offer, selling with regret as it is much loved. Don't miss out on this opportunity :) Please feel free to ask any questions.

Open home any time. Please contact Blair to make an appointment on 03 4728296.

Side awnings finished

Before we went to the US for a month, Sunshine and I finished one of the side awnings. After we got back, we finished the other. Now we have great outdoor space on the deck to use when its raining - like drying cloths, or potting plants, or some minor building work. The awning down below offers us huge storage for building materials, or a green house in the future.

We used new H5 treated 100x100 posts, with recycled H3 and 4 100x50s. We saved a tonne of money with the recycled wood and they were nice and straight and very dry. We used the top of the line polycarbonate sheeting that comes with a 15year guarantee and cuts out UV rays. The guttering dilivers the water away from all footings. Will dig a gravel trench for over flow and put a small tank for garden watering.

Already we can feel a difference in warmth. Our original plan was to close them in with second hand windows. We still could, but have been surprised by the warmth offered as they are now! It would be amazing if the awning was continued around the front of the house, offering extended indoor/outdoor space below, and helping to heat up downstairs. Going this large (over 15m2) however would require a permit. Perhaps 2 separate awnings would get around that.

More photos

07 September 2009

Last ski in the NZ back country

Even though we have no money, 2 days of dumping snow followed by perfectly still and sunny days was too much to resist. Avalanche warning went down from high to considerable, so we packed our probes and shovels and went in search of powder.

Sure enough, dropping into Cardrona's back bowl, we found some lovely fresh, with only a slight wind effect to keep us alert. We climbed the West Ridge back up, looked for the loaded pow and dropped down 800m vert of uninterrupted bliss.

Nothing can over state the sensation of floating in air as you fall down a mountain you have spent hours climbing.

USA and Canada

Video shot with my phone and uploaded on teh spot to Youtube. Later edited using teh web based video editor Kaltura.

21 June 2009

An attempt to ski Mount Pisa

View Pisa in a larger map

Robin has had this place scoped for a while, so the weekend after the big snow day Shelagh, Robin, Sunshine, the dogs and I all head off for a look see. We stayed the night in a really nice little holiday house in Bannockburn, getting up long before the sun so we could start our way up a long steep route to the Pisa range.

I must admit, when I saw the maps, I had my doubts that Sunshine and I would make it up to a snow line, ski it and get back in one day, but Shelagh and Robin had packed for an over night stay in a hut up over the range on the Cardrona Cromwell Pack Track. That was a better plan as the climb to the snow line was too big for Sunshine and I in a day, seeing us turn back :(

It was a little disappointing to see the snow line wasn't anywhere near the 900m we had hoped, and the car pack was at 400m. Had we bought a 4WD along, we could have driven all the way to the snow line and into it! But the road was boggy in patches after the sun had melted the frost over it - the driving should be done early morning only I'd say...

The view we did get of the range and the bowls and valleys coming off it was enough to inspire a return.. but it is definitely a committing trip, and not one for less than 2 days.

17 June 2009

A snow day

It snowed all day across Dunedin yesterday. The town services closed down including the Polytech, so we could all go out and play.

And play we did! Skiing around the Peninsula! That's less than 200 metres above sea level!

It kept snowing all day. In the afternoon Mike and I skied from Larnach Castle down to Broad Bay!

View Dunedin Ski in a larger map

25 May 2009


After the dump, we drove to Awakino, a small ski field up near Kurow up the Waitaki River North West of Oamaru. Its a really nice spot, forgotten it seems by most skiers in New Zealand. It doesn't seem to get as much snow as some of the more popular areas, but it would be a great access point for some pretty special touring after good snow.

22 May 2009

A night at Dansey's Pass

Sunshine and I drove out through Palmerston and along the Pig Route to Dansey's Pass. We took the skis with high hopes, but as always they closed the road to the Pass way below the snow line :(

The hotel is a lovely quiet place to stay with good tastey food, a bar and a big open fire. The drive along the Pig Route is one of our favourites. And Palmerstone was a lovely place to stop and look around the second hand shops and antique stores.

03 May 2009

Sunshine's surprise trip for Leigh's birthday

Sunshine's an angel. She researched and organised a road trip for my birthday. Taking us down to Bluff and Invercargill, and back up through the amazing Catlins, stopping in on some really nice walks along the way. I had a lovely time Sunshine, inspired and refreshed. Thanks so much.



Map (click this link for better detail on road routes)

View Dunedin to Bluff and back via the Catlins in a larger map

09 April 2009


Stuart and Gabrielle give a good tip for growing rhubarb and making cocktails from a rhubarb cordial!

Rocket stove mass heaters!

Another very inspiring idea I knew nothing about, until Keith blogged it that is! Rocket stoves with mass heating.

I'm seriously considering building one of these downstairs. We have a log burner upstairs, and we need to install some thermal mass around it to make it more efficient, but downstairs has no heating! On the one hand we could extend the log burner downstairs, but I think I'd rather build the rocket down there for my learning's benefit, try and make it so it effectively heats down and upstairs, then consider uninstalling the log burner and selling it to recover costs... permits will be an issue :(

Here's a great video Keith found:

Here's the book that the video refers to, but I'm gutted to find my local library doesn't have a copy :(

And here's a really good illustration of the functional design from Erica, along with many other photos she took during a build in the US. Thanks Erica!

Here's another photo documented installation with some adaptations by Michael Blaha.

I started a Wikipedia article to see where it might take me information wise. Also, an Appropedia page to document our progress and hopefully meet experienced people.

19 March 2009

Rugby games or design and innovation.. what are our priorities?

In Dunedin and the Otago region there is a controversial issue with a fight brewing, to build another rugby stadium instead of an Institute of Design.

StopTheStadium has documented an amazing break down in process regarding the stadium idea, to the point that most people here must think there is corruption in our local, regional and national government processes. I suspect it is more like shrewed business people taking advantage of public, media and administration blind spots while initiating the project, and using that to build up and create unstoppable momentum for their short sighted aims. In short, its a classic case of lobbying for a project where the gains are private and the risks are public.

I can't for the life of me see the worth of building an international grade rugby stadium down here, but I can certainly see the sense in developing the Institute of Design. It will certainly cost more to build the stadium than their spokespeople have publicly announced, and considering we can't fill the stadium that already exists, I don't see any evidence that another one will suddenly boost interest and sustain it long enough so as to fill the seats until the debt is paid off.. I might see the sense in an upgrade of the famous "Brook" though. Even if Dunedin did turn into the capital of the South with a population big enough and cashed up enough to be able to pay off the thing, I honestly can't see what improvement it will bring to Otago industry, business, education, imagination and over-all sustainability.

Another, far less controversial proposal is on the table at the same time. The Otago Institute of Design, but the public funding pegged for that is being pulled!? Even without knowing any more about the Institute than its name, it is far more obvious how such a thing would contribute to Otago's economic, industrial, business, educational and sustainable development.
Otago Polytechnic and Otago University are bringing their design departments together to form a new Otago Institute of Design. By pooling their expertise and resources they are creating a centre of excellence for design right here in Dunedin. This initiative will also take collaboration between design educators across NZ and the design industry to a new level, for instance, with their high-tech prototype and modeling facility that will be the most comprehensive currently available in Australasia.
But wouldn't you know it, the Federal Government looks set to withdraw their 12.5 million dollar loan to develop the Institute, instead directing their funds to the rugby stadium to the tune of 15 million!

I can't work this out. Rugby stadium / Institute of Design which one will have more bang for its buck when factoring in all bottom lines? When our local economy starts to feel the pinch of international trade and resource depletion, and we are in need of fresh and new innovation, what will help us? A game of rugby or a few thousand designers developing new technology and testing new ideas?

The only good thing I can think of about the stadium is that with its huge glass cover, it will make a great biosphere to grow the food in that we can longer import because the ships, trucks and trains needed new parts and different fuel.

This letter is sent to:
The Minister of Finance Hon. Bill English b.english@ministers.govt.nz
and Prime Minister, Hon John Key j.key@ministers.govt.nz
cc. Hon Anne Tolley, Minister for Education a.tolley@ministers.govt.nz

17 March 2009

Quailburn Rd to Ohau Peak

Heike, Mike, Shelagh, the dogs and I went exploring over the weekend. Last winter I couldn't help noticing the great ski terrain on the southern end of the range that the Ohau Ski field is on. Our question was if access was possible.

Not only was access possible, turns out it is managed by the Department of Conservation and there is a well maintained track heading up through the bush from the end of Quailburn Rd. This road is the same road that runs to the tourist attraction signed "Clay Cliffs" and you pass it on the left on your way out of Omarama to Lake Ohau. It is only about 5 km out of Omarama.

Follow Quailburn Rd onto gravel, and continue through until you reach a old red house with a bridge on its North. Cross the bridge and drive through to park at the old shearing shed museum, where the track begins.


View Larger Map


23 February 2009

New Zealand Polytechnics

After seeing Roger Stack's tour of Tasmanian Polytechnics, I thought to myself, "man! I know more about Tasmanian Polytechnic geography then I do New Zealand". So I set to work mking my owb version of Roger's Google Earth video just to study up on where NZ Polytechnic's are situated. Oh, and I learned a thing or two about Google Earth while I was at it.

First music track is some way old country by Ernst Thompson care of the Archive.

I stuffed up the credits in the video for the second track. It is called Thinking of New Zealand, but is by Adam Wojtanek - care of the Archive again.

I'll load up a new version with the correct credits tomorrow.

Thanks for the inspiration Roger.

20 February 2009

my 20 minute ride to work

Just thought I'd try out the edupov.com video camera glasses to record the ride to work

my 20 minute ride to work

Just thought I'd try out the edupov.com video camera glasses to record the ride to work

25 January 2009

Year of the Ox

The neighbors suggested we go down to the Chinese Gardens and see the fireworks show. It was a great evening, and the fireworks were awesome!

New door and a gate

Put a gate in the fence between the neighbour's and us. We visit each other often, trade food, and generally help each other out and a gate has been talked about for a long time. We plan to combine energy and produce a lot of food this year I think.

I also put a new door in the back of the house. We picked it up for $40 from Hall Bros (really cheap!). It has a big reinforced window in it so the entry hall gets light now. Even at night, the outside light gives good light through the window.

Lighting is an interesting design challenge in the house. Obviously we have replaced all globes with pearl energy savers at the lowest wattage we could get (11 Watts, still looking for less), and now its a matter of positioning the lights so that they give the maximum amount of useful light. Right now for example, we have 1 light on. It lights the lounge room and the kitchen slightly, as well as our bedroom through the glass doors. I've already mentioned that the outside light lights the hall, and the kitchen light lights the deck through the windows. I don't think there is ever a time we have more than 3 lights on. Thats 33W per hour as apposed to 180W per hour if we had normal light bulbs, or 360W or more if we used twice as many lights. This, combined with fire heating (and cooking), gas, a very small fridge, and no entertainment system is probably why our energy bill averages $45-$50 per month right through the year.

15 January 2009

Produce garden coming along

This is a great time of year for gardening. Our produce garden is getting better, with more of a focus on perennials this year, as well as fruits and berries. Next year, maybe livestock! Here's some photos:

13 January 2009

Byron, Singapore and Malaysia

Sunshine and I spent 3 weeks visiting some of our family over Christmas/New Year. This took us to Byron and Brisbane to see my Mum's side, then onto Singapore to see Sunshine's Dad and her Brother and Sister. Amazing sky scraping architecture, museums and shops, parks, and organic farms. From Singapore we all went into Malaysia for a little look see, stopping at the amazing Malacca to soak up the blends of 16C Portuguese, 17C Dutch, 18C English colonial building mixed with the foreverness of Malay, Hindi and Hokkien Chinese. We drove straight through Kuala Lumpar to the impressive Batu Caves where Hindu shrines have been built, and monkey clans hangout and snub tourists. After that we breathed some 1500m + mountain air up Fraser Hill and videoed Sunshine's brother riding a wave board down the mountain road.

View Larger Map

map of our Singapore tour