The First Road Trip

This past weekend I went on my first New Zealand road trip with Lauren and Megan to Whakapapa. We left Friday and made a stop at the Kiwi House . We got to see a live kiwi for the first time. They are much bigger than I thought they would be. Sadly I was unable to take a picture since their habitat was dark and there was a no flash photography rule.
Here is a photo of a great spotted kiwi from arkive.org.
I can see why they are endangered. They can not fly and have been used to living with no predators. Now possums, dogs, pigs and cats attack them. The government is hard at work making sure that islands and preserves become pest free so that they can reintroduce these birds to areas that no longer have them.

There were also many other birds at the kiwi house. The most notable being the parakeets. I had seen some during orientation and thought they were really cool looking. We went into a giant enclosure to see them. We were lucky enough to run across a worker who was feeding them. She had us put some food on our hands and they all came over. We all agreed that it was the best part of the day.
After that we continued on our way to the hostel. There was a lot of great scenery on the way.
Finally we saw the mountain that we would be going to the next day. It seemed really weird that the mountain was the only area with snow but it made for a nice easy drive.
The mountain itself was great. Lauren and Megan have not skied much before so I left them and went over to the western side of the mountain and the conditions were great. It was cool being able to ski wherever you wanted without worrying about skiing somewhere where the trees are too thick. You only had to look out for some volcanic rock. On the ride up one of the chairlifts I saw a sign asking "Do you know what to do when the siren sounds?". I had no clue... I asked the person I rode up with on the next lift and I guess there is still the possibility of the volcano that made the mountain erupting. So if you hear a siren you need to ski away from the lava flow zones which were highlighted on the map. Kind of scary and cool at the same time.
The mountain in the distance was used as Mt. Doom in Lord of the Rings!
We didn't get to go again on Sunday since it was raining but I was ok with that since I was exhausted after the first day. Instead we went home in the morning and had a scenic drive around Lake Taupo. It was really nice to have such a relaxing weekend. I didn't have any internet was quite happy about it. We played some Clue and Guess Who, watched TV with other people in the hostel and relaxed by the fireplace.

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