Whangarei Museum and Kiwi House
We decided that before leaving Whangarei we would stop at the Whangarei Museum and Kiwi House, not because we wanted to see another museum (or at least not all of us did!), but because it has a "Kiwi House" - an opportunity to see a real, live Kiwi. These birds are endangered and are found wild in only a few isolated areas in New Zealand and on a few of the surrounding smaller islands. On top of that, they are nocturnal, so the chance of seeing a wild one for folks like us is virtually nil. Ergo, we stopped in at the Museum and forked over $NZ10 each to see a Kiwi - oh - and the Museum. :)
This is the Museum "greeter" - he was strutting around the parking lot when we arrived. There were actually a number of peacocks, but they weren't close enough together to get a pix of more than one at a time.
A kiwi is any of the species of flightless birds endemic to New Zealand of the genus Apteryx (the only genus in family Apterygidae). At around the size of a domestic chicken, kiwi are by far the smallest living ratites. All kiwi species are endangered. The kiwi is also a national symbol of New Zealand.
This is the real one. Pretty anticlimactic, I'm afraid. I did mention that they are nocturnal, so to see it moving around, day and night are reversed in the Kiwi house, which means the bird is awake during the day when people visit because the enclosure is kept dark during the day.
The problem with this strategy is that we really couldn't see this guy very well. I think there must be some better technology for this, but the place was obviously on a budget. Oh well. We can honestly say that we saw a live kiwi, but frankly, I'd suggest to anyone else to save their money.
There are other places were you can see kiwis in NZ. I don't know if they are any better, but they probably aren't worse! The reason we chose this place is that we didn't think we'd have enough time to go to the Auckland Zoo, where there is also a kiwi or two.
We left the Whangarie Museum and aimed for Auckland. Auckland is the only place where I made a motel reservation. It was pretty close to Christmas and I didn't know how hard it would be to get a motel room in a major centre around Christmas (as it turned out, I don't think we would have had a problem), so I booked ahead - totally sight unseen over the Internet. My criteria was that it should be relatively close to the airport and have a restaurant. The place was not bad - it had a very nice pool so Craig and I had a swim when we arrived, which was very pleasant. The Airport Garden Inn.
December 24 was "Auckland Day."