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Police are appealing for witnesses, after two males entered the Sunbeam Milk Bar, on Coutts Road in Gore last night at around 7.20pm, demanding money and cigarettes.

Hundreds of people gathered at Queenstown Bay last night to watch the Queenstown Winter Festival opening ceremony.

Craft beer brewers from around the country have been in Invercargill this week for the Southern Malt Collective conference.

Emergency services were called to a gas leak in Stuart Street this morning.

It was later discovered a gas hob was left on at a restaurant overnight.

A yellow-eyed penguin found sick and underweight in the Catlins last month has been returned to the wild after recovering in Penguin Place on Otago Peninsula.

Following feedback from some sectors of the community a decision has been taken to extend consultation on the draft Dunedin Destination Plan by two weeks.

Dunedin

  • Tomorrow evening the centre of Dunedin hosts the 20th annual Midwinter Carnival.

    Two decades ago Paul Smith was one of the founders of the event, he's now the chairperson of the Dunedin Midwinter Celebrations Trust.

    He says the festival has come a long way in two decades.

    From 5:30 tomorrow evening, 22 giant lanterns, as well as hundreds of owls, flax, and koru lanterns will be paraded around the Octagon.

    Organisers expect more than 200 volunteers, as well as a number of performers to entertain the expected crowds.

  • The NZ Transport Agency has announced a $5.4 million upgrade of State Highway 1 from Lookout Point, Dunedin, to Mosgiel.

    Improvements include new safety barriers an "high performance" road markings to improve visibility at night and in wet conditions.

    Two people died and 34 were seriously injured on this section of highway between 2006 and 2015, with nearly 90 per cent of serious crashes caused by vehicles running off the road and hitting a ditch or embankment.

    Work will begin in July and should be completed by Christmas.

  • A yellow-eyed penguin found sick and underweight in the Catlins last month has been returned to the wild after recovering in Penguin Place on Otago Peninsula.

    The Department of Conservation was alerted to the penguin by members of the public at the end of May.

  • Following feedback from some sectors of the community a decision has been taken to extend consultation on the draft Dunedin Destination Plan by two weeks.

    The draft plan is now open for consultation until Friday Seventh July at five pm

    This extension enables groups forming collective submissions more time to consult within their own networks or hold meetings to discuss the draft plan in more detail.

  • Emergency services were called to a gas leak in Stuart Street this morning.

    It was later discovered a gas hob was left on at a restaurant overnight.

  • The Dunedin City Councillor trying to keep the Cadbury factory going has withdrawn his bid for a manufacturing contract with Cadbury owner Mondelez.

Invercargill

  • Craft beer brewers from around the country have been in Invercargill this week for the Southern Malt Collective conference.

    The two-day event allows the brewers to share tips and tricks for improving their skill-sets, and to try new flavours.

  • An Invercargill gym has been recognised by the Invercargill City Council as family friendly.

  • Oyster fishermen and officials from the Ministry for Primary Industries butted heads at last nights community meeting at the Bluff Rugby Club.

    The ministry hosted the meeting to discuss the effects of the demolition of Stewart Island oyster farms to prevent the spread of a deadly parasite to wild oysters.

  • Otago Country came away from Waikaia with a confidence-boosting 19-10 win over Southland Country yesterday.

    Otago Country started off strongly, with centre Rhys Harrold crossing inside the first minute, then converting from the touchline.

  • Clutha-Southland Member of Parliament Todd Barclay has announced he will not seek re-election at the general election later this year.

    Barclay has been embroiled in controversy over allegations he secretly recorded the conversations of one of his Gore staff members.

    Barclay made his announcement after meeting senior National Party members this morning.

    On the streets of Queenstown and Winton today, the response was mixed.

  • There was blood and fire on the tarmac yesterday as Invercargill Airport's emergency response was tested.

    The bi-annual drill included some very realistic simulations.

Business

  • The median house price in Otago has reached a new high of $296,000.

    That's a $16,000 jump compared to this time last year.

    Prices are mostly up in rural areas but down in Dunedin, and overall sales volumes have fallen 7% in the last 12 months.

    Otago is one of six regions in the country to hit a new record high median sale price.

    Smaller increases are also being reported in Southland and the Queenstown Lakes area.

    There has been a large jump in sales volumes in Gore and commentators say demand from first home buyers remains solid.

  • Organisers of the iD Dunedin Fashion Week are looking at ways to cut costs after reporting an almost $55,000 loss.

    The society in charge of the annual fashion week just publicly confirmed the deficit.

    In the 2015 financial year it enjoyed a net profit of more than $120,000.

    But that's turned into a net loss of just under $55,000 following this year's event.

    Income dropped and expenditure increased for the society, disappointing members.

    They're blaming lower than expected ticket sales and are now looking at trimming costs and boosting sponsorship.

  • Otago is the second fastest growing region in the country in relation to tourism, according to the latest statistics.

    It's second only to the Nelson region, which has had 11.7% growth in tourism expenditure.

    The figure for Otago is 9.6%.

    That equates to $3.2b for the year to August.

    Wanaka led the country for individual towns and cities, experiencing a $16.3% increase.

    Dunedin's also had a winter tourism boom, thanks in part to a new promotion enticing Australians and New Zealanders to the city.

  • Port Otago has generated $7.3m for parent organisation the Otago Regional Council in the last financial year.

    The company's just publicly announced its latest annual performance, reporting a group profit of just over $34m.

    There has been an increase in export container volumes and higher valuations on investment properties.

    But the log industry has declined slightly, as have import container volumes and cruise ship numbers.

    Port Otago's well into its planned $45m infrastructure upgrade, spanning several years.

  • The latest stage of the Cromwell town centre redevelopment is beginning to take shape.

    Work on the Big Fruit Reserve started in July and is on schedule to be completed by November.

    And locals are hoping it'll entice passers-by to stop for more than just a photo opportunity.

  • A two-month Enterprise Dunedin campaign to entice people to the city is costing stakeholders almost $100,000.

    The city council's footing half the bill, with partner organisations covering the rest.

    Those involved say it's money well spent but the project is attracting scrutiny.

Local Sport

  • New Zealand Cricket and the New Zealand Cricket Players Association have agreed that women's cricketers will be paid more.

    A new three-year Memorandum of Understanding will see 15 of the country's best women cricketers offered annual retainers ranging in value from $20,000 to $34,000.

    Previously, only the top 10 players received contracts worth more than $10,000.

    The New Zealand Cricket Association says paying our best women's players more fits in well with the organisation's commitment towards inclusivity and diversity.

  • Despite a season-ending loss to the Lions at the weekend, the Highlanders are celebrating success, having 7 players selected in the latest All Blacks squad.

    All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen named his side for the upcoming rugby championship, with the now expected contingent of Highlanders making the cut.

    He says he and his fellow selectors are very happy with the squad and combinations they had come up with.

  • The Kia Toa Tigers have been crowned this year's Otago rugby league champions after defeating the East Coast Eagles.

    The side won 32 to 18 at Forsyth Barr Stadium taking home the coveted William Johnston Cup.

    And while there were a few stand-out players, the Tigers captain says it was very much a team effort.

  • All Blacks coach Steve Hansen will retain his position through to the next Rugby World Cup in 2019.

    His previous contract was set to expire next year following the British and Irish Lions three test tour.

    The 57 year old has been involved in the side's two back-to-back World Cup successes in the past eight years.

    And he's lost just three of 57 All Blacks tests as head coach.

  • After almost 20 years, Kaikorai is once again at the top of premier rugby.

    The side defeated Dunedin 29 points to 22 in Saturday's final at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

    And despite a slow start to the season, the winning captain couldn't be happier with how it's finished.

  • More than 100 children are participating in a football school holiday programme at the Edgar Centre.

    The importance of growing the sport at a grass-roots level is one of the main drivers behind the four day event.

    And although the football season's winding down, there's no let-up in local interest.