Check out what's happening in our communities...just scroll down for the latest in each area..
Not one but two new restaurants in town!
Spice up your life with Mexican flavours at Casa Fuego (Spanish for house of fire) at yes you guessed it the old fire station.
The chef/owner Andrew has loads of experience and was an executive chef up the West Coast for more than a decade.
Just go to their facebook page for menus and more. It's open from 10am till 2am.
The other new eatery is a pizza joint called "Colado" in the old ANZ building on Clyde Street which has literally just opened. They are doing a range to take away and have some eat in tables as well (they are part of the Domino's franchise in Invercargill we're being told).
And talking of local food - the Balclutha Community Gardens are open again on Saturday mornings from 10 till midday with lots of lovely veggies for you to pick and take home.
All they ask is you make a small gold coin donation.
This community success story continues to go from strength to strength despite everything the elements can throw at them. Beatrice says "we have been battling torrential downpours, frosts and fierce winds but we are winning!"
Meanwhile the Summer Saturday veg and fruit market in Ryder's car park is changing day and location.
Fresh salad leaves and veggies along with the finest cherries from Roxburgh will be on offer on Thursday afternoons at the Elizabeth Street Plaza (2.30-5.30). The first market will be before Christmas.
If you want to know where your food comes from and eat local wherever possible then check out our Taste Of Clutha Trail for lots of moreish morsels from across the district. So go on eat local and meet the locals who made it!
We were all upset to see our local bookshop "Ryders" close earlier this year but it's back in business with a new owner and new bookshop. So let's all support Misty and her new exciting venture.
The i-Site is also moving into retail selling quality Kiwi goods including Merino wool and greenstone (pounamu) jewellery. No it's not just for tourists so go and have a look.
And not long to go on the new pop up on the main street (in the old Heart & Soul premises). Judy is selling new and nearly new clothes and homewares on Fridays and Saturdays and any other time you see the door open. She says it will finish by Christmas Market Day on the 1st of December.
Can add some reaction to South Otago A&P show
Well the "Ribs" as they are called locally, are officially open giving the town a great quirky outdoor venue.
Rather than knockdown the steel structure of the old swimming pool, the community got together to give it a new lease of life. If you see bright shining lights at night, don't worry it's not a UFO landing, the town has decided to illuminate their new green garden.
Annual Heritage Day
It was still a success despite some decidedly dodgy weather. A number of the town's historic gems opened their doors so you could get sneaky peak into these Victorian wonders.
The Heritage Trust was in celebratory mood announcing after 15 years of trying they have bought the old courthouse on Colonsay street, which is one of New Zealand's architectural treasures with nowhere else quite like it. As one observer put it "Lawrence has incredible potential, far more than Arrowtown!" Well who are we to argue.
The Tuapeka Vintage Club also entertained the crowds with its collection of funky machines including a shearing stand which proved popular.
It's been a busy time for lovely little Lawrence on the back of a wonderful Weatherston's Spring spectacular with 20% more visitors than 2017 and a truly dazzling daffodil display (yes we went).
Oh and the Lantern Festival was also bigger and better than the previous year with hundreds spilling onto the streets to join the Mayor as Lawrence goes with the glow of those handmade lanterns (school kids and pensioners all had a go).
Work is finally underway to do up the Joss House at the Chinese Gold Camp with exciting plans to make the most out of this potential gold mine (rubbish pun). They will be celebrating Chinese New Year (it's the year of the pig ) with music, mirth and merriment and some tasty tucker on February the 16th. Who doesn't love a good old knees up.
We're hearing that 26 on Ross has started opening for dinner on Friday and Saturday nights which is great news giving locals and visitors alike another option, cheers Liz.
It also seems that after a little hoo-ha the Wild Walnut will be selling their wonderful preserves and chutneys again from their long running cafe. Sue and Jim deserve a little bit of luck after the flooding wreaked havoc last year.
Oh and after the deluge we all suffered recently so good to hear that the shops on the main street weren't affected this time round which would have been really unfair.
And there's a new farmstay in Waitahuna which is doing a roaring trade already, well it is a rather wonderful part of the country. No-one quite knows where Lawrence's community co-ordinator and mum of four, Sarah gets the time or energy to do this as well. (it's like "When Harry met Sally - I'll have what she's having")
Lawrence is also close to getting a brand spanking new brochure highlighting the town's rich history and giving visitors the heads up on what to do and where to go, tapping into that golden potential (pardon the pun, just stop it). It should be out in time for Christmas
While up in Beaumont some new terrific tourist accommodation is nearly done and dusted. The 5 bedroom luxury self contained house sits right on the banks of the magnificent Clutha river so the views are pretty special.
And the hotel is currently renovating their dining room and have a number of other exciting plans. Oh and great news about a new bridge and the fact we're getting to keep the old one too.
The latest Council consultation is taking place giving people living in this piece of paradise the chance to have their say.
Yes the "R's" will probably feature strongly - rubbish, roads, rates and responsible camping but this really is an opportunity for locals and crib owners to be part of the debate and help shape the area's future. So go on get involved!
Slightly worrying news about the world's rarest penguin (Yellow eyed/Hoiho) which calls the Catlins home.
At the Forest and Bird-owned Te Rere Reserve only five nests were found this year, down from 13.
At Curio Bay there were two nests this year compared to four last year.
The reserve caretaker said the "reserve is in a very good condition and has very good pest control and it's likely something's happening to them out at sea."
Meanwhile land around Long Point has sold we're hearing with some very exciting plans in the pipeline. We will let you know as soon as we know.
And Catlins Coast (the community/volunteer group who promote and preserve this amazing area) are just about to launch their new website with as you might expect some stunning imagery and lots of info about the past, present and future!
A great new self contained accommodation unit is up and running in KP on Miro Street from the lovely lady who gives us Kaka Point honey - go on then we'll say it "yes she has been a busy bee".
The Catlins Brewery is getting an off licence so they can sell their tasty tipples straight from the source. You can also arrange tours and tastings. Pint please...
Jared and Anna from Catlins Kayak and Adventure are gearing up for their second season with their trips round the Nuggets proving really popular, getting that totally different perspective.
It seems a few folk are turning empty bedrooms into b&b's in KP tapping into the growing tourist numbers. Nugget Point is now second only to Milford Sound as the most visited natural landmarks down South.
The Port Molyneux School wedding and function venue along with the Brewery, Catlins Kayak, and the pub also all feature in the annual no adverts "Insider" special from Life and Leisure which will be out for Christmas.
Oh and we're hearing that you might soon be able to get Catlins Brewery Beer on draught at the Point Pub with two new taps being installed. Think local, Drink local!
Green news first - and the wonderfully quirky Earthlore wildlife gardens and insect theme park is open full time for the summer season!
There really is nothing else quite like it in New Zealand or the world for that matter.
Interactive games and features, gorgeous gardens and fun and frolics for all the family.
It could only happen in the Catlins giving us "Recreation, Education and Conservation" with a lovely twist.
Elsewhere in town, a heritage orchard park has got the go ahead and will have an amazing array of apples from across the South. This fruit fest will be behind the stock yards and they now need passionate volunteers to quite literally help this orchard park grow.
Carol's Blacksheep boutique is almost back but in a new location with a brand new building on the main street. Owaka builder Wayne Hollows has again come up trumps and has done it in next to no time at all (no he hasn't been cutting corners).
If you are a fan of Asian clothes and jewellery then the wait is almost over as Connie will be open again soon at Gevadi with her latest collection from Nepal, Tibet and Thailand.
Staying with shopping and Paper Road on Saunders Street is open 6 days a week selling rare books and vinyl (and they've got vintage motorbikes just so you know). They have also taken over the Catlins Soap Company.
Meanwhile the former premises of the soap company have been bought separately by a Japanese couple who are planning on opening a restaurant and potentially wedding venue. Watch this space.
More Tipple and Tucker
The Lumberjack has new owners who are already proving a real hit with the locals. The chef is Matthias originally from Germany who has been toiling away in the tourist mecca that is Queenstown where he worked with his wife Louise (from the fine republic of Yorkshire) who does front of house. They are open 6 days a week.
Dave's coffee shop is also proving popular if you haven't already called in for your caffeine hit. Locally roasted coffee is the only thing he sells! Another local Ella is doing a roaring trade in takeaways from the Bakehouse food caravan on the main street (all this talk of food is making us peckish).
Mick and Deb have started renting freedom kayaks so people can explore the magical rivers at Maclennan and Tahakopa and of course the estuary. They are almost opposite the Lost Gypsy which is up and running again after their winter break. A veritable treasure trove of gizmos and gadgets where you can also get a good coffee and a tasty pad thai.
Cathedral Caves is also back in business now the tides have settled down a tad.
You might also see local Papatowain Scott out and about for his second season as Responsible Camping Ranger educating and raising awareness across the Catlins. It's a great collaborative effort between Clutha, our neighbours Southland and DOC.
Oh and some more good news - The Papatowai Challenge is going to continue. Wayne who has organised the event from his wee crib for over 20 years has retired sparking fears for the future of this great event.
However Sports Clutha has come into save the day and will be running (pardon the pun) this iconic race from now on so if you fancy a bit of bush and beach exercise in a truly stunning setting then panic ye not (date t.b.c but February or March).
Well the weather gods were definitely kind to the West Otago A&P show with heavy rain on the Friday and Sunday but a lovely warm sunny day in Tapanui for the actual event.
Organisers said a "massive crowd turned up to the show, which had some new events this year".
"We've had a bit of a change and instead of getting a celebrity guest like we usually do we've decided to spread our entertainment dollar a bit further and offer the crowd a lot more things to do."
For the very first time "Mules" (the crafty little vehicles not donkeys) were shown, you could get a ride in a horse and cart or get airborne in a squirrel helicopter (means a small certain brand - no squirrels were used or hurt ), some mucky, messy fun with paintball and some very popular displays from Dunedin's Otago Museums.
The Museum combined with the Pomahaka Water Care Group and took the award for best trade site.
Of course there were firm favourites like the livestock competitions along with wood chopping contests and some titanic tussles in the shearing shed.
Organisers said "we haven't got cattle because of mycoplasma bovis but we'll have them back next year, I'm pretty sure we can make that happen without too much trouble". Well "Amen" to that!
Blue Mountain Butchery (who had a stall along with Top Nosh at the A&P) has started selling their marvellous meat products on line through their website store. They are also starting to sell their wonderful wares at the country's finest farmer's market - yes we mean Dunedin's rightly famous Otago wide get together each and every Saturday morning.
Not content with resting on his laurels Vaughan is also looking at bringing meat directly to you with potential weekly trips with his brand new trailer to various other parts of the district. So watch this space.
Locals are also chatting about how to make the most out of Conical Hill and creating a walkway from Mainholm lodge down and there is even some discussion about making it bike friendly too.
Lots going on in busy "Kai" as always. Our partners at My Little Local Clutha (app) give you a true taste of this year's "Car Run and Show" which was yet again a stellar success so check out their article.
Staying with petrol-heads well kind of. After more than a decade petrol will be pumping in town once more with work underway on a 24 hours self service station on Clyde Terrace.
Oamaru based McKeown Petroleum wanted to help this go ahead community and back their efforts to boost business in Kaitangata and will have it ready in time for Christmas.
And coincidentally they are using Oamaru stone to revamp the Kai Community centre.
In other news
An eco home expert has bought two sections in Kaitangata and is working with the community and council to hopefully provide some new state of the art affordable housing.
The architect and engineer has sold up in Europe and is coming down south to showcase his modular eco homes which can be added on to and are easy to heat and maintain.
We're also hearing there could be some more good news on the horizon housing wise and will bring you the latest when we get it.
Things are going from strength to strength for the new preschool playcentre in town with 30 kids on the books after only a few months of being open.
The Kai Primary school is growing too with a new classroom up and running after a number of unexpected enrollments.
The town and surrounding area are gearing up for the Toko A&P show with according to organisers "more entertainment than ever before".
Yes there will be the livestock shows, food and market stalls along with tip top entertainment for the kids from the likes of Mr Yipadee. Add some stilt walkers and fire dancers into the mix and it's a fun filled family day alright!
If you haven't heard about "Project Bruce" well it is community led project to bring people together from the whole area including Taieri Mouth and Waihola.
As always they have been beavering away to connect their communities.
They are helping launch "a local broadsheet publication to showcase the wonderful literary and visual artistic talent in the community."
So if you would like to contribute poetry, prose, history, visual art or really anything creative that can be reproduced in small scale, they would like to hear from you!
They are also on the lookout for anyone who can help with production and printing! Email email@example.com or drop into the Hub.
A "Young Parenting Group" has been just launched to help create a support network for young families in the area without relatives nearby.
Meanwhile the "Young Ninja" workshops where kids learn about fire spinning have proved such a success that there will be more, so keep an eye out..
And as always there's lots going on at the hub....so for the latest workshops and much more just go to their facebook page
In other news:
Celebrity chef Michael Van Elzen (from "the Food Truck" TV series) hosted a healthy recipes for kids session at Tokoiti School.
They were one of only 47 lucky schools across the country chosen out of hundreds to have these special sessions with Michael. To borrow their words "Huge and delicious fun!!"
The annual Coastal Classic mountain bike and run event at the start of November was a real success and the "wild mix of sun and pouring rain made for an especially spectacular beach section". Everyone involved hailed it as "a Great Day".
In a great bit of community collaboration Toko High School and Project Bruce have lent a helping hand to the Moturata Organic Community Garden providing veggie plants.
If you are green fingered or just keen to get some fresh air and do your bit, then you can help out at their "workin''beez" initiative on the 2nd Saturday of every month at 2pm - just go to their facebook page for more.
The whole district has been marking the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day and it is fitting that lovely Livingstonia park is getting a beautiful new picnic table and specially crafted smaller version for kids. The land was actually originally given to the War Amputees and the furniture has been paid for by donations in memory of their sacrifice.
Oh and here is a date for your diaries - the AGM for the "Taieri Mouth Amenities Group" is being held on January 21st at Leitch Memorial Hall at 7.30pm any questions then just call Jeannine on 03 481 1919.
Plenty going on Waihola way as well.
There are new homes going up across the settlement with perhaps as many as 20 having been being built or going up right now.
You might have also seen lots of trees and bushes being cut down by the foreshore and wondered what the heck is happening?
Well the locals have been busy clearing the playground so it can get an upgrade. Well it's not a bad wee spot for some family fun.
Also the community is working with the council to drain the characterful cricket ground by the lake. They managed to have 3 games on it last season and it really is a rather special spot for some leather on willow. Never seen another pitch quite like it!
Fresh from sprucing up the Milburn Whale Fossil Lookout ahead of the summer, attention is now turning to painting the hall. Idle hands and all that.
Young Farmers Awards ? local - speak to councillor - have left a message for John..
***Will also put in some pics/photos if draft gets go ahead...***