Rotorua here we come…..!

Rotorua here we come…..!

Hostels usually have an early check out time, this hostel it is 10am, you have to take the pillow cover and room key to reception to get your key deposit, I took the cover off my pillow and, well lets say insects would not use that pillow! The joys of hostelling!

We left the hostel and popped to the library to check last minute emails, Sangeet also enjoys the library coffee shop’s soy hot chocolate!

Afterwards with heavy rucksacks we walked to the car rental location, the walk was through Albert park, which is near the University of Auckland. This location was a complete opposite to Queen Street which was just hustle and bustle. It actually felt good having a 30 minute walk with our rucksacks fully loaded, really felt we were one of the backpackers! Saw some interesting buildings on the way.

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High Court

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As soon as we got to the car rental place,the process to pick up the car was straight forward. Papers were signed and we were shown our car, ‘El Cheapo’ it was even written on the rear window!!

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As soon as I got over how small the car was (I am used to big sized engines, makes a change us having a 1.3L car!!!) we headed to a health food shop to stock up on a few supplies. The shop was called ‘Harvest Wholefoods’ and had a good selection, the bill came to $121.59!!!!! Things here in New Zealand have become expensive!
Shop address:
Harvest Wholefoods
405 Richmond Road
Grey Lynn
T: 09 376 3107
F: 09 360 1616
w: www.huckleberryfarms.co.nz

After getting over the shock we headed south on southern motorway 1 towards Rotorua, you take 1 to Hamilton then 5 to Rotorua. You drive on the left, same as UK, for some reason I could not get used to it! Think I still miss the States.

We passed through three Gurdwaras on the way, Otahuhu, Takanini and Hamilton and enjoyed delicious lungar at each one!

Indians started arriving in New Zealand at the end of the 19th century, most immigrants arrived from Punjab, and Gujarat. Most Indians settled in Auckland, Wellington, or Christchurch. Indians are often stereotyped as owning convenience stores known as ‘Dairy’s in New Zealand. Also there are a large number of Indian Restaurants in New Zealand.
With the Sikh community in New Zealand increasing The New Zealand Sikh Society was developed in 1964, and the first New Zealand Sikh Gurdwara was built in Hamilton in 1977 and another in 1986 in Otahuhu. With the increasing number of Sikhs in New Zealand an increasing number of Gurudwaras are being built.
The number of Indians are increasing rapidly in New Zealand as seen in the 2006 census compared with the 2001 census, over the five years there was a 68.2% increase in the number of Indians in New Zealand.
In the 2006 census there were 9507 Sikhs in New Zealand.

Gurdwara Guru Nanak Dev Ji Sikh Sangat Otahuhu

Otahuhu Gurdwara
Name: Sri Guru Nanak Dev Sikh Sangat Gurudwara Sahib Ji
Address: 120 Princess Street, Otahuhu, Auckland.
Postal Adress: PO Box 22579 Otahuhu Auckland.
Telephone: +64 9 276 9043
Fax: +64 9 276 9236

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This is the largest Gurdwara in New Zealand
Takanini Gurdwara
Address: 70 Takanini School Road, Takanini, Auckland
Telephone: +64 9 296 2376
Fax: +64 9 276 9236
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The first Gurdwara in New Zealand
Hamilton Gurdwara
Address: 6391 State Highway 1, Te Rapa, Hamilton
Postal Adress: PO Box 9464 Hamilton
Contact Telephone: +64 7 849 4952
Status: NZ Sikh Society, Hamilton Branch

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We had lungar at the Hamilton Gurdwara, afterwards we got talking to a lady Rajvir who said they are holding the Akhand Paath. We explained that we are on the way to Rotorua to see our Puaji, she asked what is their name we said their sons name is Dr Karandeep Singh Lall, she said “you serious?! they are very good friends of ours!” – what a small world. She asked us to come on Sunday also to bring Puaji. It seems like the further south we go the friendlier the people are.

Once we said our byes we headed south on 1 then took 5 to Rotorua. It takes about 1.5 hours from Hamilton to Rotorua and the maximum speed is 100kmph.

We arrived in Rotorua around 7 pm and got to paji’s (paji = brother) at 7:30pm, last time we came in 2005 and got lost, we arrived at the house 4 hours late!!

When Puaji opened the door it was great to see her. We totally forgot what a beautiful house they have, also the garden now has a hockey pitch and a small park! We enjoyed a nice meal together, chatted and watched a Indian comedy before a good nights sleep.

People watching…..

When we go to places, what I love is getting out early and just watching people in their everyday activities rushing to work, college, or wherever they are going….in this town you are mainy backpacker watching! There will be backpackers waiting for the early bus or moving from hostel to hostel. Also I noticed quite a lot of Sikhs another miserable lot, when you say Sat Sri Akal, you just do not get any response! Crazy and we are suppose to be able to approach one another with open arms!

Getting prepared……

After a very relaxing morning, we used the time to book a car rental from Auckland to Christchurch this was through Josh at Base Travel at the hostel. nice guy with lots of piercings! We went for Jucy Rentals, the car group we used is called ‘el Cheapo’ just hope it does the job!!! We popped out to Loving Hut for lunch, as well as great food this restaurant also has free wifi a luxury in Auckland! After a fantastic lunch, Sangeet had Singapore rice noodles, I had lemon ‘chicken’ with a portion of ‘duck’ (yes, it was that good!) and chinese half jelly for dessert, we used their wifi to call family in Rotorua, send several emails and book our WWOOFing work in the South Island! We spent about four hours in the restaurant, this was just eating and using their wifi! When we left I was hungry!!

We had a wander around downtown including the malls and went to see the ferry terminal….we then walked up Queen Street towards the library…..we noticed that there are a lot of smokers here, it is just impossible walking without inhaling a lung full of cigarette smoke! Met an interesting guy called Anand at the library. He has lived here for a few years and was telling us about the growth of the Sikh community.

I also noticed how people mostly just do not smile, you smile and usually people smile back, here in Auckland, not many do. A lot of people seem to think they are really stressed here, maybe that is why so many of them smoke!

Once we got to the library we logged on but found the Internet VERY slow. Internet speeds have been around 400kb download and 80kb upload…..painfully slow especially when you have a lot of pictures to upload.

Afterwards we walked Queen Street, there was an an opening speech in the plaza area (Aotea Square) followed by a variety of open air performances. At first they had some majorettes / dancers then had a couple of actors pretending to break out of a prison. Both very good performances. We left during a solo performance by a girl. We then walked to Dosa Plaza where we shared a starter (paneer tikka and naan) and I had a masala tea. For mains we went to another restaurant called:
Basilicum
M17, Elliott Stables
41 Elliott Street
Auckland
New Zealand
e: deben@basilicum.co.nz
w: www.basilicum.co.nz
t: 09 379 2710

Elliott Stables is a building with many different restaurants and common dining area, this restaurant is lacto vegetarian (also they do not use garlic or onions) we had pakoras which were very nice and crispy tofu with cucumber and crushed peanuts which was okayish, a bit of a boring dish. There drinks are very good. Sangeet ordered a very berry smoothie which was delicious and I had another masala tea!

Afterwards, we walked to the hostel and relaxed in the lounge area whilst our clothes got a much needed wash in the hostel laundry.

By the way the daytime temperature is 17 degrees C and drops to about 10 degrees C at night……for me this is VERY cold!

Why no windows…..?

Why no windows…..?

There are a number of ways to get from Auckland airport to downtown Auckland:

1) Taxi, nice and easy and will take you to your destination but it will cost you NZ$70.00
2) Shuttle, depending on how many people are traveling can work out cheap
3) Airbus, will cost NZ$16 for a single trip and will drop you off downtown.
4) Bus to the train station and then train town downtown Auckland,total cost NZ$3.80

We only found out about the bus and train option later in the day, we took option 3 the airbus and got off at stop 3, we had booked into XBase hostel, a room, with no window cost NZ$65.00 it would have cost NZ$75.00 with a window, at the time I thought who needs a window!?!!

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As we arrived there was the usual formalities fill out the registration form and give a NZ$20.00 room key deposit. We arrived at 12:30 and check in opens at 1pm so we waited in the foyer. This place feels more like a business then a cosy hostel, I know hostels are there to make money but they also have the homely atmosphere, this is what is missing here.

After checking in and leaving our luggage in the window less room, which felt strange, we headed out to lunch. Sangeet found a fantastic vegan restaurant called

Loving Hut
61 Victoria Street West
CBD
Auckland
New Zealand
T: 09 303 2531
w: www.lovinghutnz.com
World vegan world peace

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The restaurant is 3 minutes walk from our hostel. At first I was not looking forward to it, thought I would be cold salads but as soon as I found out they do fake meats I was very happy. Sangeet ordered sweet and sour tofu, I ordered roast duck, they had this down to a tee, it was perfect! The ‘duck’ had the fatty texture, if the restaurant did real meats alongside the fake meats I would have questioned asking if they had brought out the real duck!!

After lunch we walked past the Skytower, a tall impressive building in downtown Auckland which has a restaurant, people also sky dive from the top or you can do a sky walk around the edge of the tower. We were last here seven years ago and do not remember the surrounding area being so built up. We then had a walk around downtown to get our bearings, the library offers free wifi so we popped there, we are looking to do some WWOOF work (organic farming) whilst here in New Zealand, Sangeet registered us and contacted some hosts and posted our listing whilst I uploaded some pictures, unfortunately it kicked me out as soon as I exceed the 100 mb limit. Whist here we have found the internet pretty slow, also in Auckland there are very few spots it is free!

We spent 3 hours in the library and decided to go out for dinner, whilst walking a white New Zealander Paul said Sat Sri Akal to us, then asks Sangeet if it is usual for Sikh women to wear a turban, he said he knew about Yogi Bhajan and the women in that community wear turbans but thought that was all, he then gave us some information on Yogi Bhajan! We said we were familiar and that we were both Kundalini Yoga Teachers, the chaps name was Paul and we stood on the corner for half an hour chatting. He is pretty knowledgable about eastern philosophy for a westerner. All of a sudden Nolan walks around the corner, we met Nolan in Rarotonga. Nolan was WWOOFing with Doug, the coconut guy. It felt odd seeing Nolan in a built up city after meeting him in remote and relaxed Rarotonga! We decided to go to dinner together and popped into Dosa Plaza where we enjoyed good food and conversation. Nolan is inspiring, he just left high school and wanted to see the world through different eyes so decided to travel the world alone, all at the age of 18. Listening to Nolan and his experiences we can sense how he is being protected and guided during this amazing adventure he is on.

Greetings from Auckland…..

We have arrived in Auckland, unfortunately there are very few free wifi spots!  We have plenty of posts and pics to upload, please bear with us!

Just looking for accommodation……..

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