A pavlova is a traditional Kiwi Christmas dessert

Celebrating Christmas in New Zealand

This post is more for our friends and visitors from the Northern Hemisphere and hopefully gives you some great tips for enjoying Christmas in New Zealand. If you hadn’t already gathered, Christmas down in the Southern Hemisphere is a bit different to the Christmas you are used to back home. For a start, none of the Christmas songs make any sense at all. White Christmas? No chance. Roasting chestnuts on an open fire. Not likely. Baby it’s cold outside. Er, nope. Still, it’s still nice to hear all the Christmas classics even if they don’t make sense. What usually makes things worse is you’re usually dressed in shorts and flip flops when you hear them playing which is even more confusing!

New Zealand Christmas traditions

Here in New Zealand, we do things a bit different to what you’re used to, especially those from the UK and USA. Each and every country around the world celebrates Christmas in a different way and we’re no different. Just because it’s warm and sunny though doesn’t mean we don’t all look forward to it. For kids, it’s not just Christmas but it’s also the start of their long summer holiday from school and for many Kiwis, it’s the chance to take some time off work and spend time with family and friends out in the sun and down on the beach.

If you’re celebrating Christmas for the first time in New Zealand and you’re still not convinced about all these weird things going on when it should be cold and miserable outside, here are a few top tips to help you embrace Christmas in New Zealand.

Ditch the turkey

A Christmas Day BBQ in New Zealand

A Christmas BBQ is a great way to spend Xmas in New Zealand

For many, turkey and all the trimmings is the order of the day on Christmas day but here in New Zealand, we like to do things a bit different. For many Kiwis, a BBQ is a pretty traditional way to prepare the Christmas Day dinner with anything from a delicious piece of fish to a lovely juicy steak on the menu. Other Kiwi households do go a bit more traditional and a big ham features on many Christmas dinner menus so if you’re missing home, this may be a good option for you.

Avoid the TV

Playing cricket on the beach on Christmas Day in New Zealand

Families in New Zealand will head to the beach on Christmas Day and beach cricket is always popular

In the Northern Hemisphere, it’s not unusual for families to huddle round the TV after a big Christmas lunch and settle in to an afternoon and evening of re-runs and Christmas specials. Not in New Zealand. It’s going to be light until 9pm and fingers crossed the sun is going to be shining so we recommend heading down to the beach and soaking up the nice weather. If you want to get into the spirit, try building a Christmas sandman instead of your usual snowman. The beaches around New Zealand will usually be pretty busy with families and friends coming together to celebrate together with lots of family games and fun. Get involved and get stuck in, we’re a friendly bunch down here and the more the merrier.

Swap out the Christmas pudding for Pavlova

A pavlova is a traditional Kiwi Christmas dessert

A pavlova is a traditional Kiwi Christmas dessert

Whilst Christmas pudding may be a popular dessert in the cold Northern Hemisphere with lashings of custard, it’s a bit too hot down here for anything like that. Instead we recommend swapping out your Christmas pudding for a lovely fresh Pavlova made with beautiful New Zealand fruit. Kiwis and strawberries are our personal favourites but you can freestyle with your own personal favourites.

Get social

It can be tough being away from home at Christmas, especially if all your family are still back home. For many expats, whether this is your first time away or you’ve lived in New Zealand for some time, your friends become your family out here and even more so at Christmas. Whilst Christmas is traditionally a big time for families in the UK and USA, here in New Zealand, we like to invite all out extended family and friends around at Christmas so hopefully you won’t be short on invites. Try to see as many people as you can and get social this Christmas. Make sure you arrange to Skype with people back home but keeping busy with lots of friends around is a great way of forgetting that you are missing stuff at home and making sure you enjoy your Christmas in New Zealand.

Get in the Christmas spirit

Scene from Home Alone

Watching Christmas movies like Home alone can get you in the festive spirit

We have plenty of expats who stay with us at CPG Hotels over the festive period and the one thing we often get asked about is traditional Christmas moves. Popular requests include Die Hard, Home Alone, Love Actually, Elf and the Polar Express. If you are missing home this Christmas, make sure you have access to Netflix and plan in some Christmas movie watching – it will soon get you in the festive spirit!

Hopefully these tips will help you to make the most of your Christmas in New Zealand and we want to take this opportunity to wish all our guests who will be staying with us in the lead up to Christmas and over the festive period a very merry Christmas.