Water cooler: Winter solstice at Castaways, Jaffa Lump debate and cleaning the chicken coop

This week in the water cooler, we celebrate the winter solstice, go on a coop cleaning mission, watch trees walk before our eyes and take part in the great Jaffa Lump debate.

Winter Solstice at Castaways Resort at Karioitahi Beach from This NZ Life on Vimeo.


When the days get short, and the rain starts pounding it’s easy to get the winter blues, but this year I made a night of it at a winter solstice celebration at Castaways Resort at Karioitahi Beach.
The recently opened Glamping Village near the mouth of Port Waikato on the wild west coast was a picturesque spot to watch the sun go down (with a solstice cocktail in hand) on the shortest day of the year.

Castaways Resort at Karioitahi Beach

I certainly wouldn’t have thought that this was the ideal time of year for glamping and to zip into a tent but layered in a warm puffer jacket and thermals it was a great spot. Castaway hosts, Serena and her dad Gavin, looked after us with good honest hot food from their outdoor pizza oven and lamb from the spit, and before going to bed, we toasted marshmallows around a fire pit. There’s something magical about being tucked up inside listening to the waves break, the wind and rain howling overhead.
On the shortest day of the year, the daylight hours were 9.37 hours and 55 seconds, but by December 22 we’ll be at 14.41.55 hours of daylight. That’s 5 hours, 4 minutes more daylight to look forward to.

Yolanta Woldendorp
Art Director, NZ Life & Leisure


The office was divided: battle lines were drawn, and sides were chosen. This week’s purchase of a bag of the new Jaffa Lumps caused a debate. Were they better than the original Pineapple Lumps? No-one one could agree so we put it to a vote. With an office kete as the voting urn, each staff member wrote their vote onto a ballot card (it was Friday, okay). Special votes were cast on this tussle of the iconic Pineapple Lump with the upstart Jaffa pretender by:
NZ Lifestyle Block editor Nadene Hall (who appropriately lives remotely on a lifestyle block and nowhere near the office for a Friday afternoon ballot)

Insider’s Guide editor Cheree (right) cast a vote from the road while Courteney (left) cast two votes, one for her, one for her baby bump.

Insider’s Guide Editor Cheree Morrison (who, also appropriately, is out of the office researching the next Insider’s Guide chapter on Christchurch)
Website assistant Courteney Macleod (who cast two votes – one on behalf of herself and one for her baby bump).

Kate’s invalid ‘no vote’ for Viberi Ruby.

The votes revealed Pineapple Lumps were the runaway winner. Pineapple Lumps = 8, Jaffa Lumps = 3. And 1 rogue (there’s always one, isn’t there) slipping in a vote for Viberi Ruby (blackcurrants rolled in white chocolate). Caught in her web of deceit, Kate had a different kind of lump in her throat.

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*Ed’s Footnote- we love how chocolate brings people together, and we  really hope the Cadbury chocolate factory in Dunedin stays in production. We also hope that iconic New Zealand chocolate such as Jaffas and Pineapple Lumps stays on our shelves.

Emma Rawson
thisNZlife editor


Since moving to our 20-hectare slice of paradise in Hunua nearly three months ago, I’ve had a crash course in caring for a lifestyle block. Thankfully I get to glean information from each page of NZ Lifestyle Block as I design it, and also have on hand the ‘guru of everything’ editor Nadene Hall to guide me along the way.

Rebecca ready to exterminate pests.

This week I donned coveralls and a mask to clean/water blast/de-mite/pest control our inherited chickens and their coop. Our six chooks were left here for us, and it’s fair to say they needed a bit of love and attention. Cleaning out a coop isn’t a process for the faint-hearted, but I’ve chipped away at the list of jobs to do and I’m proud to say I’ve achieved it all!  I have just finished throwing away the eggs after giving the chooks a parasite treatment (ivomec), and are looking forward to receiving our fresh free-range eggs again.

Check out our bookazines ‘How to Care for Your Poultry 1 & 2’ for more information on caring for your chickens.

Rebecca Needham
Art Director – NZ Lifestyle Block Magazine


A walking tree in the Waikato from This NZ Life on Vimeo.

It’s not every day your neighbour takes their trees for a walk. The video above is a bit grainy (I’m about 300m from the action), but I can tell you, when you are looking out the kitchen window, bleary-eyed and coffee-deprived, to see a tree appearing to waddle its way across your line of vision does make you wonder if you need to switch from instant to filter.
It’s no surprise that the big dairy farm behind me would want to remove these trees. They’re enormous, dwarfing the shed you see in that video which stands 10m+ high at the roofline, and positively removing most of the sunlight from the two farmhouses just metres away.
Being a big dairy farm, they can do things in a big way. That’s where this big digger (that’s a 40-tonner) comes in (on the back of a truly enormous truck). It has a saw and ‘mouth’ on the end of its arm so it can cut and grab the whole tree, then carry it away to create – you guessed it – a really big stack.
Nadene Hall
Editor NZ Life

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‘Home’ Rebecca’s finished reduction woodblock on Fabriano paper 210mm W x 297mm H, Limited edition of 3 prints.

I had such fun creating this piece of art, and although it didn’t quite turn out as I had expected, I have to be proud that I’ve learnt a new technique and can put that into practice should I have the opportunity to do it again. Doing this short course has been a catalyst in my creative thinking, and I’m looking forward to exploring other creative avenues. Maybe pottery next.
Here is the rational behind my work:
This simple, graphic artwork depicts one of my favourite pieces on display in my lounge, a globe. Not only is it nice to look at, being slightly vintage and a beautiful form, but it reminds me of my honeymoon, when my husband and I found it while op-shopping in a small New Zealand town. Since then it has followed us from house to house as we have bought and renovated and made each place our own, all the while growing our family along the way. And since having children, it’s often been used as a reference point to find out where ‘Daddy is in the world’ assuring my boys that he’s not too far away. The world is one big beautiful place, but nowhere compares to this little island I call home.

Rebecca Needham
Art Director – NZ Lifestyle Block Magazine

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