Written by Christopher Nye,
Last Modified: 10th May 2023

From BBQs on the beach to Santa parades and the brilliant crimson ‘New Zealand Christmas tree’, we look at the essential ingredients to have yourself a very Kiwi Christmas in the heat of the summer.

Make the most of the weather

For many Brits thinking of moving to New Zealand, one of the oddest things is celebrating Christmas in summer – but we’re sure you’ll soon be a convert. With temperatures usually in the high twenties, New Zealanders make the most of the sunny weather and spend as much of the day outdoors as they can, whether that’s sitting out on your decking in the sun to enjoy Christmas lunch or heading down to the beach in the afternoon. For anyone who’s done their fair share of rainy post-lunch walks in the UK, it’s pretty easy to see the appeal of the Kiwi Christmas!

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Enjoy the sunshine with a Christmas BBQ.

Enjoy the sunshine with a Christmas BBQ.

Turkey and trimmings, or a BBQ on the beach?

Many New Zealanders have British ancestors, and so you will find the traditional roast dinner and all the trimmings are still popular here. However, with the weather so warm, if you can’t bare to have the oven on all morning, you’ve got plenty of other options! Many people choose to have a BBQ, with everything from burgers and sausages through to more luxurious options like venison, with delicious salads served on the side.

Of course, dessert is often the traditional pavlova, a meringue dessert created back in the 1920s for ballerina Anna Pavlova, and typically topped with soft fruit like kiwis or strawberries. That said, you will still find British staples like mince pies and Christmas pudding.

The Christmas shutdown

As Christmas falls in the summer, it’s also right in the middle of the long summer holidays, so children will be pleased to know they’ve got six weeks off around Christmas. And it’s not just the kids that have the time Most offices close down from the Friday before Christmas until the second Monday in January, although this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule. It all helps to make Christmas in New Zealand a relaxed and family-oriented affair, with plenty of time to sit back and enjoy the festivities, without rushing home from work on Christmas Eve.

Santa parades

Auckland's November Santa Parade is one of the biggest in the country. Natalia Ramirez Roman / Shutterstock.com

Auckland’s November Santa Parade is one of the biggest in the country. Natalia Ramirez Roman / Shutterstock.com

All the way back in November, New Zealand starts to get into the festive spirit with Santa parades. They’re exactly what it says on the tin – local streets are closed for parades of Santas and other floats, car and trucks, as well as marching bands. It’s great fun for the kids who can catch free sweets, lollies, balloons and more thrown from the floats.

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‘Christmas bells, those Christmas bells’

While all the familiar Christmas songs are known down hear in New Zealand, you might find yourself belting out a few Kiwi tunes, too – Snoopy’s Christmas is a favourite, as is Sticky Beak the Kiwi, A Kiwiana Christmas and The Southern Cross Looks Down.

The Kiwi ‘Christmas tree’

Christmas might not be signalled by snow or shorter days, but there is one sign it’s coming – the flowering of the pōhutukawa tree. With its bright red leaves and flowering peak in December, it’s come to be nicknamed the ‘New Zealand Christmas tree’, and is especially common in North Island.

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