He may have travelled all the way from Dunedin to play basketball at the AIMS Games but Oli Cashmore feels right at home in Tauranga.

He went to school at St Mary's Catholic School for two years before shifting to Dunedin when he was 7 with his parents Kylie and former All Black Adrian Cashmore.

Oli, 12, has loved being back for the week with his Balmacewen Intermediate School team, who along with swimmer Harrison Summers from John McGlashan College, are the most southern competitors at this week's AIMS Games.

Read more: AIMS Games gets underway
Tauranga church helps house temporary homeless during AIMS Games


"It is good fun being back. I caught up with a couple of mates here," Oli said.

"AIMS is pretty unreal. The opening ceremony was amazing and this is a good experience for everyone. We have played some harder basketball up here with a few better and stronger teams. It is good competition."

The Balmacewen basketballers and three parents, 15 in all, are staying in a large house they rented in Otumoetai which has made for a close, community feel.

It is part of what the AIMS Games experience is all about, with most of the 10,139 athletes sharing limited space available in Tauranga and surrounding areas.

Team manager Kylie Cashmore said the AIMS Games experience has been something else.

"The opening ceremony was just mind-blowing for us. To have 5000 people in the stadium was really cool.

"Everywhere we go there are kids and they are meeting new people. They have been watching a couple of sports they haven't seen before. It is an incredible experience."

Balmacewen have not had it all their own way in the boys' basketball competition with a 34-32 win over Francis Douglas Memorial College from New Plymouth yesterday morning their second win from five games played so far.

Eric Peita, 13, was one of the Balmacewen players who experienced his first loss of the season on Tuesday. But he took it in the right spirit.

"It was actually fine because I think we can learn from it. It is good to take on North Island teams. It is a bit different than just facing South Island teams," Eric said.

The Dunedin boys were interested to know the rugby-playing Barrett brothers attended Francis Douglas, with one sharp Balmacewen basketballer also noting Conrad Smith went there as well.

Coach Natalie Visger, who is development officer at Basketball Otago and coach of the NZ under-16 women's team, was called up six weeks ago after regular coach Tom Rowe was called into the Otago Mitre 10 Cup rugby team.

"This is my first time coaching boys. I think they are doing a nice job here keeping everything on time and I have seen a few good little basketballers out there and some bigger guys who can play," she said.

"For us it is really good as in the South Island we don't have a lot of different teams to play. Some of our guys haven't lost for two or three years in their school 'ball.

"It is part of the process. You have to learn how to win and lose and adjust to both."

The basketball competition at ASB Baypark Arena concludes with finals on Friday morning.