Lake Wakatipu

Lake Wakatipu
View of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Lake Taupo Get-Together

November 7, 2016

We had the opportunity to fly to Lake Taupo on the North Island for a retreat with the other Family History Records Preservation Missionaries in New Zealand. Many thanks to Mike Higgins for putting this wonderful opportunity together. 

Elder & Sister Byrne, Edward, Woods and Eccles.
There are only three couples besides us left in New Zealand doing preservation work. Elder & Sister Woods are in Wellington, Elder & Sister Byrne are in Auckland, as are Elder & Sister Eccles. We knew the Byrnes from our week in the MTC in Provo and it was fun getting reacquainted. It was also fun getting to know the Woods & Eccles and share experiences and knowledge with each other. We also had Tom Nelson from FamilySearch Content Strategy join us from Salt Lake City. The interaction was helpful as we shared some suggestions with Tom and Mike. They also let us know how much the work we do is appreciated. Tom shared some insight about records preservation in Africa..... really interesting.

Our motel was just across the road from Lake Taupo.
Depending on the weather and time of day, the lake took on many different faces.
It was interesting to watch the people interact with the lake in many different ways..... some walking, some jogging, some just sitting and admiring the view.

 Aratiatia Rapids

The Aratiatia Rapids were amazing. Every two hours water is released from a reservoir above the rapids area. This massive amount of water is forced through a narrow channel, causing a spectacular view to behold.
Before the water is released the area is quiet and peaceful.
Then slowly the water volume builds until we were watching the most amazing rapids go by.
Did we mention how beautiful the water is?
On our way to the rapids, we stopped at this beautiful location in the trees.
We were told that this area, with the cave in the background, was used in a movie.

 Huka Falls

Huka Falls is located close to Aratiatia Rapids.
We are joined in this photo by Mike Higgins, our FamilySearch manager.
I don't know what Sister Edward said, but she had them roaring about it.
Beautiful water features are everywhere in New Zealand.
We were so content to enjoy this amazing scenery.

Lava Glass

Taupo has a glass blowing factory outside of town.
We were able to watch the touch of the master's hand as they molded the molten glass.
After several steps the glass started to take shape.
And then this.....
..... became this.
We then got to stroll through their magical garden.....
..... where glass creations of every size and shape .....
were just waiting to be enjoyed.
 Black Swans

Since we arrived in New Zealand, Sister Edward cannot get enough of black swans.
As it turned out, Lake Taupo is black swan viewing heaven.
They are so willing to get up close and pose for the camera
What beautiful creatures they are to watch.
I wonder what this swan is thinking......
.....maybe going for a swim.

 Maori Rock Carvings

One of the must-do attractions at Lake Taupo is to go to the Maori Rock Carvings. Here we are approaching the location after a thirty minute boat ride.
The carvings were created in the late 1970's.

After we departed the area, some kayakers took their turn.
We were told that the building lots above the carvings start at a million.
We then enjoyed a view of the shoreline as we returned to the harbor.
It was another wonderful New Zealand adventure..... too quickly over.
What a wonderful invention a camera is. We can take these precious memories home with us.
Taupo McDonalds

Okay, How many blogs take the time to show you the local McDonalds Restaurant in photos? We do when it has a DC-3 attached to the place. The pictures speak for themselves. Enjoy!!


This beautiful bird is a native of New Zealand.
After a brief moment to snap some photos, it flew away.
We were thrilled when it returned to a nearby tree and gave us another photo-op.


Monday, July 4, 2016

Hamilton Temple Trip

     We experienced the most amazing Hamilton New Zealand Temple trip in July. The members living in our LDS Church Dunedin Stake on the South Island plan an annual trip up north. They start saving early for the experience to spend one or two weeks at the temple. They even have a special fund set up to help those who might not be able to afford to go. There is housing available next to the temple for members participating in these special temple trips. 
      We stayed in one of fourteen clean and comfortable rooms which included a private bath. There was a large kitchen with seven fridges, three stoves and several stainless steel sinks molded into one large unit. Every two rooms shared a fridge. It worked out quite well. We paid a nominal fee for each of the five nights we stayed there.

Taranaki Volcano on the North Island of New Zealand.

It makes sense that if they build their homes on steep hillsides, they would also have cemeteries on those steep hillsides. This photo was taken between Auckland and Hamilton.  At the bottom of the cemetery there was a sign posted in the grass. 
So our question is..... do they have a problem with grave robbers in New Zealand?

You can see the temple spire in the background. It was a refreshing walk to and from the temple each day.
Three of the seven fridges in the kitchen. There were also plenty of tables and chairs.

Someone pulling faces at the cameraman.
     We signed up to attend the first week. We had a smooth flight to Auckland. The plan is for everyone to book their trip so as to arrive at the airport about the same time on July 4th.  At the designated time we got on one of two chartered buses for the two hour trip to Hamilton. They schedule a stop in Pocono for ice cream and in Hamilton at a grocery store for supplies. It was after dark when we finally arrived on the temple grounds. The Hamilton Temple sits on the top of a hill. It was a gorgeous site to see from a distance all lit up at night.

Large Norfolk Pines stand on each side of the temple front.

Standing in front of Sister Edward's favorite pine tree.

Another view of the Hamilton Temple, which was constructed with volunteer labor.

Beautiful workmanship both inside and out.
The Hamilton Temple Visitor's Center as seen from the temple front.

     Attending the Temple was so relaxing and spiritual. The cares of the world were left behind.  All we had to do was get up in the morning, eat breakfast and then stroll up the hill to the temple where we would spend the better part of the day. The Church also has a Visitor's Center near the temple entrance. The people we met were so helpful and friendly. We ate lunch in the temple cafeteria each day. The entire trip was a very rewarding experience to add to our collection of New Zealand memories. One evening at the temple we even ran into someone who used to live in our LDS Ward back in North Ogden. They now live in New Zealand. It was fun to reminisce.
     It was also fun to play a spirited game of Uno in the kitchen with the other three senior missionary couples at night. We might have violated the 9:00 pm kitchen curfew a few times..... all in good fun.
     The week seemed to go by so quickly. Suddenly it was Saturday and we were on a bus to the Auckland airport. We were back home in Dunedin by late afternoon. We were both grateful for the opportunity that we had to share this experience with our Dunedin 2nd Ward and other members of the Dunedin Stake. We will be thinking about them next July when we are home.