Travel, What I wear

Clamdigging shorts (with asides)

In Dunedin just after New Years, my host asked if I would like to go clam-digging.  I’ve never been clam-digging before – there are no clams in Hawaii, and (as far as I can tell) very few within a reasonable drive of Wellington.  I am extremely enthusiastic both about new experiences and foraging for food (Mr D says “It’s so weird being with you in Hawaii.  You just go into the bush and find stuff and eat it), so I was quite excited.

Dunedin has clam  beaches (clam fields?  What do you call an area where one goes to harvest clams?  (harvest?  catch?  what do you call the act of collecting clams?)) a reasonably short drive from the city centre, so we headed out away from the city to find one.

Out and about around Dunedin, NZ,

We drove out along the coast, around still bays and past rocky islands, by spreading sand beaches, and between cone-shaped volcanic hills.

Out and about around Dunedin, NZ,

Out and about around Dunedin, NZ,

Finally, we came to our chosen bay, with stretches of sand and shallow sea-grass islands revealed by the ebbing tide.

Out and about around Dunedin, NZ,

Just a few meters into the water were the clams: solid lumps that shifted under the sand as you walked.

Having dipped my toes in the frigid water at the main beach in Dunedin, I was significantly less than enthusiastic about wading about calf deep in water feeling for clams with my toes, but I needn’t have been worried.  In the shallow waters of the bay, the temperature had increased to very comfortable levels, and I quickly decided that 1) I love clam-digging and 2) I wish I had brought my togs!

All too quickly we’d accumulated a sufficient haul of clams (30 – well within the 150 per person daily quota), and returned any little ones to the sea.

Clamdigging in Dunedin,

Then it was time for fun: exploring the beach and enjoying the sea and sand.

I found this little cutie in the crystal clear shallows:

Clamdigging in Dunedin, thedreamstress.com09And kung-fu hermit crab a little further along the beach:

Clamdigging in Dunedin, thedreamstress.comAnd if you are wondering about the wadge of seaweed in my hand, that’s my other exciting find.

Clamdigging in Dunedin,

It’s a NZ seaweed, and I was sure that it was basically the same as limu manauea  (limu ogo) in Hawaii.  I was right – it turns out that it is indeed the local New Zealand gracilaria seaweed (look at me, just tossing out scientific names like textile terms!)

Clamdigging in Dunedin,

Just like Hawaii’s gracilaria varieties, it makes a delicious seaweed salad.  This Hawaiian girl was extremely happy for the next few days!

Between the sea, the sand, the sun, and finding food and friends, I was in absolute heaven.  And I had the perfect outfit for it too (look at me, cunningly bringing it back around to sewing!  😉 )

Clamdigging shorts in Dunedin, thedreamstress.com14

I am constantly on the lookout for a good shorts pattern: one that sits high enough on my hips, but not all the way at my true waist, and is low enough on my legs, and has enough curves to fit my curves, and is roomy enough to accommodate all the crazy things I want to do in a day, and has BIG pockets to hold all the interesting things I accumulate in a day.

Clamdigging shorts in Dunedin,

Having failed in my attempts to find such a pattern, and completely failed in my attempts to just suck it up and buy shorts (not a happy experience), I just made my own pattern.

Clamdigging shorts in Dunedin,

I’m going to tweak it a teeny tiny bit next time, but basically, I love them.

Clamdigging shorts in Dunedin,

This pair is made from the same fabric as my Hepburn in Hakatere trousers.  I had exactly enough left over.

Clamdigging shorts in Dunedin,



(dang it, now I really want to go swimming!)


  1. Annabel says

    Lovely photos. Love the shorts; very flattering and not too short. Well done you!

  2. Ann Seabolt says

    That’s the way I am. If I can’t find what I want in the stores I make it. Sometimes having to make my own pattern or tweaking an existing pattern to get it the way I want. I used to make most of my own clothes but with the increasing prices of fabric, patterns & the lack of places to buy fabric where I live I don’t make as much as I used to. When I first moved here 40+ years ago there were two actual fabric stores & 5 stores that had fabric departments in them. Sadly now all we have is Walmart & Hobby Lobby which have VERY limited fabric suitable for clothing. I used to go to Dallas occasionally which is about 30 miles away to visit the fabric outlets & stock up on fabric, but the prices & selections are not what they used to be. I’m hoping things may get better as we are getting a Hancock Fabrics later in the year. I hope they have a little better selection than what’s available at present.

  3. lyndle says

    Perfect beach outfit. As for terminology we used to pick clams. Or dig clams. Or just go to get some clams. Maybe it’s mussels that you pick. Aargh! I love Dunedin. The water is cold but there are lots of great beaches. And the museum is great too. Best largely unsung tourist destination in NZ.

  4. Elise says

    I totally corroborate everything about Hawaii foraging! Sometimes, you go on a hike and get hungry but you munch on strawberry guavas which are conveniently there. Not just a Hawaii thing…I do that in Southern Arizona, too.

  5. Seaweed salad – that’s a new one on me. Looks yummy, though.
    Feeling for clams with your toes might seem a bit weird at first, but consider: there’s a tribe in PNG who traditionally hunt for crocodiles that way – and yet, somehow, they are not known as the Tribe of One-Legged Men!

    • There are lots of seaweed dishes in Hawaiian cuisine – this one has a mix of Korean & Hawaiian flavours, with lots of extra vegetables. I suppose you would call it Nouvelle Hawaiian Cuisine 😉

      Oh my! That’s quite a way to hunt crocodiles!

  6. That ain’t clams – that’s cockles! Well – whatever. Anyhow – next time you are in town give me a yell out and I’ll take you to see the clothing and my ancestors at Toitu. They also have a decent cafe.

    • The colloquial term is cockles, but the more accurate name is little neck clam. I’ll definitely accept tuangi as the most correct term though. 😉

  7. Those shorts look a lot like my most recent idea of good shorts. I’ll also have to make them myself.
    And thank you for yet another insight into New Zealand living!

    • Thank you! If I get the patterned drawn up and graded before your ready to make a pair for your summer, I’d be honoured to have you test the pattern 🙂

      And yep, Kiwis are very into a bit of self sufficiency and collecting their own kai moana (food from the sea) – something that they definitely share with Hawaii!

  8. I saw the shorts and went, that’s the pattern I want and then I saw you’d drafted it yourself. That’s great in some ways, but means I can’t buy a PDF and make some myself, I love shorts and finding some that don’t sit on the natural waist can be tough, if you also want coverage and pockets.

  9. Drat, typed a post waxing lyrical about your shorts and grumbling that you’d drafted them yourself so I can’t buy them and then I hit the wrong button and lost it all!

    Suffice to say, that is the perfect pair of shorts and I’m bummed that I can’t just go online and buy a PDF to make them for me. Below natural waist, but not too far below, coverage of assets and pockets, just perfect, sigh.

  10. Having hopped over from your Preppy Miramar post to this link I was desperately hoping you had a link to your super cool clamdigger shorts pattern, or where you bought it.

    I think this should go on your short list of Scroop patterns to make…… Hint hint.

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