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.