If you’re coming from the Northern Hemisphere and have never had a Southern Hemisphere Christmas before prepare yourselves for a few shocks! Because on the 25th of December things in NZ are done in a very different manner!
Kiwi Christmas Traditions
New Zealanders keep most of the traditions of the Northern Hemispher ie Christmas trees, decorations, stockings, gifts, carols, and cards with snow and mistletoe but they mix them with traditional summertime activities like BBQs, the beach and the great outdoors!
The main Christmas difference you will experience is the weather! Christmas day in NZ could be very hot and so sitting around the table over several courses of Xmas dinner is out of the question!
Xmas time in NZ is the main summer holiday for most and a time off work. Thousands of New Zealanders travel out of the cities to a summer location or return to their ‘bach’ (holiday houses) or the same camping ground habitually each year.
If you've got nothing to do at Christmas and you happen to meet a Kiwi, then there’s a good chance of being invited to spend Xmas with them and their family. If you get this offer you should accept! No one likes to be alone at Xmas time and Kiwis are especially keen to welcome foreigners into their households and show them how they do things here. Here are some of the new things you might discover!
Although Kiwis are very social people, don’t expect to spend hours around a table eating. There’s too much to do outside and so sometimes a yummy Kiwi barbeque might be served at lunch time or even brunch (breakfast and lunch around 11am) so that the rest of the day can be spent enjoying the weather and doing outside activities and games.
If you want to know what to bring to a meal your favourite salad can never go wrong but also we kiwis will appreciate trying a traditional dish or food from your home country. Whatever the Christmas meal may be you can rest assured there will always be Pavalova for dessert! The Pavalova is a Kiwi tradition (although the Aussies tried to steal it!) Topped with cream and kiwifruit this is something not to be missed!
In NZ we have 2! The traditional pine needle one and our own iconic Pohutakawa Tree which its beautiful red tuffty flowers that always bloom around Xmas. The Pohutakawa tree is an important symbol for NZers and is often found on Xmas greeting cards, poems and songs
A Kiwi Christmas Song Sung By Ronan Keating!
We've had to change all the lyrics fo course but this video is well worth a watch especially if you want to know how NZ's see Christmas in a song! Watch Video
In NZ, traditionally we open ALL our presents on the morning of the 25th (unlike in Europe which is normally the night of the 24th) Some kids are lucky enough to open ONE present before they go to bed before Santa arrives (normally by surf boat as opposed to reindeer!)
Santa can come to your motorhome too! - An idea for people traveling with kids
If you’re travelling with young kids who are wondering how Santa will find them in a campervan, you could try this little trick of leaving Santas footprints!
- Put on some gumboots (NZ slang for wellington boots)
- Carefully sprinkle flour around the gumboot at each step to represent the steps Santa would have taken in his gumboots when leaving his presents (up the steps and inside the cabin of your motorhome) You’ll get footprint that look like Santa’s brought in a dusting of snow from the North Pole. Kids love it!
Why not take the kids to any a Kiwi Santa Parade? Most towns in NZ have a Santa Parade or a Christmas in the park so if your timing is right you might just catch one! Check with the local information centre in your location. These are normally good value with fun floats and lolly scrambles and games for the kids. However remember to take your hat and sunscreen. The sun could be out! Spare a thought for poor Santa who has to spend all day in the sun in his red suit and beard! If you are in Auckland you could check out the famous puppetry display at the Smith and Caughey store on Queen St
Alone at Christmas?
No kids and without a place to go or no one to spend Christmas with? Here are some ideas that might shake that homesick feeling around Christmas time
- Spend a night at a Hostel. Park up the motorhome at a Hostel. Some hostels will put on a Christmas dinner or BBQ to bring everyone together. It’s a good excuse to socialise and make new friends for Christmas
- Volunteer. You might prefer the feel good feeling that comes from helping out others not as fortunate as yourself. Check in with a volunteer organisation in your location. You can find volunteering opportunities at your nearest Volunteer Centre.
- WWOOFING is a unique way to spend Xmas and a good way to spend Xmas with a NZ family in a rural environment
- Work. A bit boring but hey if you’re an opportunist you could always put your hand up for a few days work especially in the food and restaurant industry as there are lot’s of staff away at this time. Caterers and restaurants are often looking for extra fill in staff and hey at the end there is always a staff Xmas shout to enjoy with your new found friends/work colleagues!