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Thomas Shepherd
Thomas Shepherd
Thomas Shepherd is a New Zealand based writer and commentator whose content features regularly in alternative and conservative media.

An Urban Pilgrimage

Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Temple

New Zealanders have always had an appetite for international travel.

But with the cost of living crisis pinching the purse strings, many would-be adventurers are today looking to sate their appetites in the domestic travel market here at home.

Fortunately however, New Zealand is as beautiful and rich in culture as anything which one could hope to find while wandering abroad. And of all the aspects of culture a would-be traveller can contemplate, temples have always fascinated me the most.

After all, temples have often served as spiritual embassies for both pilgrims and laymen alike and were once at the heart of civic and social life during a more enlightened era. Today, despite the distractions of modernity, these spiritual sanctuaries still exist for those who are willing to seek them out.

The Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Temple is one such sanctuary and is located in the leafy suburbs of East Auckland, just five minutes drive from the Botany Town Centre.

Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Temple

The temple, which is affiliated with the Fo Guang Shan Monastery in Taiwan, has been constructed in traditional Tang Dynasty architectural style on a four hectare block of prime suburban real estate and is one of the largest and most beautiful of its kind in New Zealand.

Attended by several resident monks, the temple is open to both urban pilgrims and visitors alike, with festivals and community events drawing large crowds throughout the year. On any given day, the Water Drop Teahouse vegetarian cafe invites a steady stream of visitors and offers an immersive dining experience, with traditional cuisine served in an authentic oriental setting.

Temple 2 Temple 1

For those seeking culture, the temple hosts a variety of allurements, including galleries, exhibitions and occasionally even calligraphy lessons. The temple is also home to a large deity of Buddha Gautama, as well as a smaller deity of Avalokitesvara and a shrine to Ksitigarbha.

Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Temple

During springtime, the soft-pink cherry blossoms of the temple’s inner courtyard carry the imagination off to a distant time and place, while manicured, oriental-style gardens offer the opportunity to decompress from the outside world.

For the would-be traveller, such an experience is sure to be appreciated.

If You Visit

The temple is usually open Tuesday – Sunday 9am – 2pm, with ample parking available. When visiting the temple, modest attire is required, with long pants or dresses being appropriate.

Although the temple is free to enter, donations are always welcomed. The Water Drop Teahouse vegetarian cafe offers a variety of refreshments and there is also a gift shop selling souvenirs, books and devotional items.

Visit the temple website for more information.

All photos © Thomas Shepherd.

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