Christmas is a time for family – and sometimes traveling. Many people from the Northern Hemisphere find themselves in places like New Zealand to spend their holidays. There are many common Christmas traditions in New Zealand like other parts of the world. However, there are also some key differences that make spending Christmas in New Zealand a truly unique and wonderful experience.
New Zealand Weather
Part of why people from the Northern Hemisphere often come to the South in winter is to experience its summer weather. December is midsummer for New Zealand, and so families can enjoy their Christmas on the beach. If you come from snowy regions of the world, this different type of weather is perfect for vacationing in.
Holiday Events in New Zealand
It is not uncommon for towns across New Zealand to host Christmas Parades. These Sunday events feature bands and floats. The most popular one is the Auckland Santa Parade which started in 1934 and brings thousands to see it each year.
The British tradition is typically having dinner midday, and it is that meal tradition that the Kiwis maintain. This meal follows a gift exchange from presents under a tree. The dinner could be as simple as a barbecue or as elaborate as traditional turkey or ham, roasted potatoes, sides, and wine. In New Zealand, plum pudding or a Christmas cake is frequently a dessert along with kiwifruit, pavlova, strawberries, and a cream.
Although church is not a regular event for most Kiwis, Christmas services – including a Midnight Mass – are a popular event. The cathedrals in places like Auckland often overflow with attendees. Other religious services observed at this time include the Nine Lessons and Carols as part of the Anglican traditions.
A Feeling of Christmas
You know it’s Christmas in New Zealand when the pohutukawa tree blooms red, lining the coasts. Not only is this natural Christmas tree visible, but many New Zealanders also decorate pine trees in their homes, hanging lights and tinsel like many Europeans do. Office parties and Christmas shopping consume many aspects of social life, and Christmas carols can be heard in the malls or in groups gathered to sing.
The summer break starts Christmas Eve, ending in January when schools return to session. This means many people out shopping, leading to busy streets and heavy traffic. Although shopping stops on Christmas Day, it recommences on Boxing Day, the day after, as people head off to the beach.
Planning Your New Zealand Holiday
While Christmas definitely dominates the atmosphere in December in New Zealand, it is important to realize there are many diverse cultures and traditions in the country – and not just those from European settlers. More than anything, the holiday is a time to gather with family and enjoy the summertime outdoors together. This means you, too, can plan a great trip to spend your holiday in New Zealand with family.
You don’t have to do all the planning alone, either. For example, The Road Trip specializes in planning road trips, private tours, group tours, etc. across the most beautiful parts of New Zealand. NZ South Island tours are a great way to see the spectacular mountains, beaches, and cities of New Zealand – both their natural beauty and their festive activities and decorations.
If you want to get away for Christmas somewhere warm and exciting, consider planning a vacation and tour in New Zealand. It’s a gorgeous country you won’t regret seeing – including in the Christmas spirit!