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Christmas in New Zealand: Celebrating the Holidays Down Under

Embracing the Festive Season with Warm Weather, Outdoor Gatherings, and Kiwi Traditions

As December rolls around, New Zealand embraces the festive season in its own unique way. With a summer Christmas, the celebrations in this stunning island country are vastly different from the snow-covered traditions of the Northern Hemisphere. From sunny outdoor gatherings to fascinating customs, Christmas in New Zealand is a delightful blend of Maori, British, and contemporary Kiwi influences. Let’s explore the distinctive ways Kiwis celebrate this joyful time of the year.


A Southern Hemisphere Christmas

Warm Weather and Outdoor Celebrations

While the Northern Hemisphere is bundled up in wintry weather, New Zealand enjoys its warmest temperatures in December. With an abundance of sunshine, Kiwis often spend their Christmas day at the beach, in parks, or at backyard barbecues. Outdoor gatherings with friends and family are the norm, and it’s not uncommon to see Santa Claus in shorts and sandals.


Pohutukawa Trees: New Zealand’s Christmas Tree

Instead of the traditional pine tree, New Zealand has its own native Christmas tree: the Pohutukawa. This beautiful tree, adorned with vibrant red flowers, blooms during the holiday season, and its festive appearance has become synonymous with Christmas celebrations in the country.


Christmas Traditions and Festivities

Christmas Parades

Throughout the country, towns and cities hold their own Christmas parades, with floats, marching bands, and entertainers taking to the streets to spread the holiday cheer. Santa Claus is often the highlight of these events, delighting children and adults alike.


Carols by Candlelight

Another popular Kiwi tradition is Carols by Candlelight, where communities gather in parks or town squares to sing classic Christmas carols. Holding candles or glow sticks, participants create a magical atmosphere under the starry summer night sky.


Christmas Eve and Midnight Mass

As in many countries, Christmas Eve is a time for reflection and spirituality. Many New Zealanders attend midnight mass or church services to mark the occasion and celebrate the true meaning of Christmas.


Christmas Dinner: A Kiwi Twist on Classic Dishes

While a traditional roast dinner with turkey, ham, and all the trimmings is still popular, many Kiwis opt for a more casual and summer-friendly meal. Barbecues with an array of meats, seafood, and fresh salads are commonplace. New Zealanders also enjoy pavlova, a light and airy meringue dessert topped with whipped cream and seasonal fruits, as a festive treat.


Gift-Giving and the Secret Santa Tradition

New Zealanders exchange gifts with friends and family on Christmas morning, just like in many other countries. A popular Kiwi twist on gift-giving is the “Secret Santa” game, where participants draw names and buy gifts anonymously for each other. This fun tradition is not only enjoyed among friends and family but also in workplaces and social clubs.


Boxing Day: A Time to Relax and Shop

The day after Christmas, known as Boxing Day, is a public holiday in New Zealand. Kiwis often use this day to relax and unwind after the festivities. It’s also the start of the country’s biggest sales season, so many people hit the shops to snag a bargain.



Christmas in New Zealand is a unique and enchanting experience, with its warm weather, beautiful Pohutukawa trees, and delightful blend of traditions. Whether you’re attending a festive parade, enjoying a delicious outdoor meal, or singing carols under the stars, a Kiwi Christmas is one you’ll never forget.

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