Christmas is a time we normally enjoy alongside friends and loved ones, so it can be tough spending the festive season overseas. But Christmas is a relaxed, fun-filled occasion in New Zealand, and there are plenty of opportunities for visitors to enter into the celebrations.
PARADES AND CONCERTS
The Christmas spirit is infectious, and there’s no better place to feel the festive vibe than at a Santa Parade. Santa Parades are held in all the country’s major cities, with main streets being closed off and a variety of colourful floats, marching bands and street entertainers, not to mention Santa himself, regaling large crowds.
Christmas in the Park is another event held all around the country, with musicians and various celebrities performing in front of hordes of families who gather with picnics and light refreshments.
Christmas in New Zealand is celebrated at the height of summer, where daylight hours stretch from 5am to 10pm (approximately) and temperatures frequently reach the early thirties. Kiwis relish the opportunity to get outside during the holidays, and there’s no better place to soak up the atmosphere than at the beach!
For those of you looking for a more sensory experience, grab yourself a bunch of Christmas Lilies’. Christmas Lilies, otherwise known as Trumpet or Longiflorum Lilies, are synonymous with Xmas in New Zealand, as are the stunning red flowers of the native Pohutakawa, which is in full bloom come December.
Christmas is a time to celebrate faith, and while Kiwis don’t traditionally attend church on a regular basis the Christmas services always draw a big crowd. Head along to midnight mass on Christmas Eve, where you’ll have plenty of chances to sing traditional hymns and enjoy the company of a diverse array of people, all reveling in the Christmas spirit.
SOCIETIES AND GROUPS
On the day itself there are plenty of cultural groups that hold Christmas celebrations in the major centres. Whether you’re from Europe, Asia, Africa or South America, there are organisations in all the big cities where you can find companionship from fellow countrymen.
EATING AND DRINKING
If you’re from the Northern Hemisphere you’re probably used to big, heavy meals, but in New Zealand the warm weather means roast turkeys make way for light salads, ham off the bone and seafood grilled on the barbeque. To get a real taste of Christmas in NZ treat yourself to a piece of pavlova, or pav, a delicious meringue with a crisp crust and a light, fluffy inside, or a couple of Brandy Snaps, cream filled ‘gingery’ desserts which, despite the name, do not contain alcohol.
If you are spending the festive season in New Zealand don’t be afraid to get out and about amongst the locals. Travelling is about trying something new, and Christmas is the perfect excuse to do just that! Have a very Merry Christmas, or, as the native Maori say, Meri Kirihimete!