A Quick Walk Up the Neighborhood Volcano

As we may have mentioned before, Auckland is proud of its volcanoes. The city is built on 53 of them, although some of them no longer exist as they were quarried for building materials. Luckily, the field isn’t active right now, although they do expect a new volcano to appear at some point within the next 20,000 years. Auckland City Council isn’t taking chances though, they have detailed evacuation plans for any type of volcanic activity…

A lot of this info we picked up from the volcano exhibit at the Auckland Museum. The museum is built on an ancient volcano crater, so if anyone knows this stuff it’s them. It’s worth visiting as not only does it have all the information you could want on how volcanoes work, but also a lot of volcano-related artifacts like rocks that ring like bells and pieces of a train wrecked by a volcanic landslide. The best part is the simulation of being inside a house while a new volcano appears in the harbor, complete with fake news reports and shaking floor!

Auckland Museum. We were in that glass dome last week!
Auckland Museum. We were in that glass dome last week!

Obviously, we’ve already been to a few: Rangitoto is the largest and the newest while the coast-to-coast walk took us to some of the more famous ones. However, with our new apartment we now have a new volcanic neighbor, so we decided to go say hello!

Mount Hobson, from the museum.
Mount Hobson from the museum.

Here’s a view of Mount Hobson, which we hiked up a few weeks ago (been busy, sorry!). As we approached it we saw some clearly very active people walking the hill through a field, so we decided to follow them, not seeing any other way up. This turned out to be a bad plan, since we had to wade through tall grass, dodging cow pats, to get to the “path,” which was extremely steep. We had to be careful not to slip in the mud lest we slide all the way down the hill! The view from the top was definitely worth the effort, though:

The view towards Parnell, where we live.
The view towards Parnell, where we live.

It was a hazy day (and I’m bad at taking photos), but we could still see for miles in all directions. We couldn’t quite see our house, sadly, but we were happy to spot a new bird!

It didn't want us getting close.
It didn’t want us getting close.

It’s called an Australian magpie, which is a bit misleading because, though it looks like a black and white crow, it is completely unrelated. They aren’t native to New Zealand and are considered a nuisance when they breed in early spring, since they become very aggressive and attack cyclists and pedestrians. Scary!

Note: I’m getting all my bird facts from here on out from Birds of New Zealand: A Photographic Guide, which we got a few weeks ago. Between them, the authors have discovered two new bird species so we figure they know what they’re talking about.

The bird on the front is a kakapo.
The bird on the front is a kakapo.

It contains information on over 300 bird species found here (though many of those are seabirds that we’ll never see) and is quite useful for identifying the various birds we see. To be fair, most of them so far have been very distinctive, but it’s nice to get the extra information. Plus, of course it has tons of pretty bird pictures!

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