Christmas in New Zealand

Christmas in New Zealand is more social than commercial, just the way I like it. One would have to look pretty hard to find a Christmas tree lot around here, as the Christmas tree of choice down here is the pohutakawa, a relative of the bottle brush, which blossoms in a crimson red each season about this time.  

For Kiwis, Christmas falls in the beginning of the summer. Kids have about a month’s holiday from school, business nearly comes to a standstill, and most people stretch two weeks of vacation time into three or four weeks. Around Auckland, if you have a boat (one out of seven people do), or know someone who does, chances are you are off for a cruise to some of the many gorgeous islands in the Hauraki Gulf.  

I haven’t been too big on Christmas since I was a kid, and I’ve grown to dislike all the commercialism associated with it. In the States, the Holiday season seems to just pile more on to many people’s already stressful lives. I avoid going home for the holidays, as I can’t be bothered with holiday travel and winter, and prefer to hang out where the season isn’t so in your face and truly feels like a “holiday”.                                                                      

While traveling from country to country, where traditions change with each port of call, I preferred to just go with the local flow. Since I’ve been hanging around New Zealand for the last few southern summers, I’ve developed a bit of tradition of my own, shaped in part by my circle of friends here.

Christmas is usually spent socializing with friends in some fashion. One year, we organized an “orphans’” cruise on Moonshadow, with about eight Australian, American, British and Canadian ex-pat friends who had no local family. What started out as an afternoon in a lovely anchorage off nearby Motuihi Island turned into a huge slumber party, as nobody wanted to go home!

The Pohutakawa or “Kiwi Christmas Tree”

The day after Christmas is usually spent at the horse races at Ellerslie Racecourse. The Boxing Day meet is one of Auckland’s premier fashion and social events each year. The atmosphere is electric, the fashionis stylish (particularly the hats), and the champagne is flowing. The party is periodically interrupted by some horses taking a quick run around the track. Post-race festivities continue in the pubs and restaurants in the fashionable suburb of Parnell.

The following day, if the weather cooperates, we provision up Moonshadow and head to my favorite spot in the Hauraki Gulf, Great Barrier Island. Just 55 miles from Auckland, it is one of the most beautiful South Pacific Islands, and you can visit there without having to bring your passport. We usually spend a couple of weeks there fishing, diving, hiking, catching scallops and crayfish (lobster) and socializing with yachtie friends.
So, for this year anyway, I think we will stick with tradition!


This entry was posted in All Cruising Logs, New Zealand Logs, South Pacific Logs. Bookmark the permalink.