Christmas in New Zealand: A Unique Blend of Sun, Sand, and Santa

Christmas in New Zealand

blog authorBy Johanna Hansen shield verification Verified Expert

    Christmas in New Zealand is a fascinating blend of traditional festivities and unique Southern Hemisphere charm. Unlike the typical winter wonderland, Christmas in NZ is a summer affair, bringing its own set of delightful traditions and activities. 

    This article delves into the heart of a Kiwi Christmas, exploring how the warm weather and local culture shape the holiday season in this beautiful country.

    How do they celebrate Christmas in New Zealand?

    In New Zealand, Christmas is a time for outdoor fun, family gatherings, and unique traditions. Santa parades are a common sight in towns across the country, featuring floats, bands, and marching teams. These parades, starting from mid-November, set the festive mood. New Zealand Santa often sports 'jandals' (New Zealand sandals) and might even swap his red top for an 'All Blacks' rugby shirt, reflecting the Kiwi spirit.

    Hanging a Kiwi Christmas tree is another cherished tradition. The Pōhutukawa, with its bright red flowers, serves as New Zealand's Christmas tree, adorning homes and streets. It's not just a festive symbol but also an important part of Maori culture.

    What are some fun facts about New Zealand during Christmas?

    Santa's Unique Attire

    A New Zealand Christmas tradition includes Santa wearing 'jandals' (Kiwi flip flops), a quirky twist to his usual attire. Reflecting the warm Southern Hemisphere climate, Santa often swaps his heavy boots and fur-trimmed jacket for more suitable beachwear, adding a fun and relatable touch to the festive celebrations in New Zealand.

    Nanta in New Zealand

    Summer Christmas

    In New Zealand, Christmas in summer transforms the holiday into a season of beaches and barbecues. The warm weather influences traditional Christmas meals, often replaced by fresh seafood and outdoor picnics. Families gather under the sun, embracing the festive spirit with a distinctly Kiwi flavor, making Christmas a unique blend of traditional joy and summer fun.

    Hanging a Kiwi Christmas Tree

    The Pōhutukawa tree, often referred to as the New Zealand Christmas tree, is an iconic symbol of the holiday season. Its bright red flowers, blooming in December, are not only used for decoration but also feature on Christmas cards. This tree's association with Christmas dates back to the mid-1800s and is deeply rooted in local culture.

    Kiwi Christmas Tree

    Having a Hangi

    A hangi, a traditional Māori feast cooked in an underground oven, is a popular choice for Christmas dinner. This method of cooking gives the food a unique, smoky flavor, making the Christmas meal a memorable experience.

    Hangi Food

    Going on Beach Picnics

    Beach picnics are a staple of the Kiwi Christmas. Families and friends gather on the shores, enjoying the sun and sea. Swimming, playing beach games, and sharing meals make for a relaxed and joyous celebration, quite different from the snowy Christmas scenes elsewhere.

    Banner CVNZ

    What activities do New Zealanders do at Christmas?

    Christmas in New Zealand is about enjoying the outdoors. Families often go camping or spend time at their holiday homes, known as 'Baches.' Barbecues are common, with a variety of meats, seafood, and the famous pavlova dessert. Carol services are held nationwide, and many towns put up impressive Christmas light shows.

    Does New Zealand celebrate Christmas twice a year?

    Interestingly, some New Zealanders have a 'mid-winter Christmas' in June or July, embracing traditional hot Christmas meals like roast chicken and lamb. This is becoming popular in businesses and clubs as a way to enjoy Christmas traditions in the colder months.

    Christmas in NZ

    When is Christmas in New Zealand?

    Christmas in New Zealand is celebrated on December 25th. However, the summer setting means Kiwis enjoy a holiday season filled with sun, sand, and surf, making it a unique experience.


    A Kiwi Christmas is a delightful mix of traditional elements and local customs, set against the backdrop of New Zealand's stunning summer. From beach picnics to unique decorations like the Pōhutukawa tree, the holiday season in New Zealand is a vibrant and joyous time.

    For those planning to explore New Zealand during the festive season, consider renting a caravan from Campervan New Zealand. It's an excellent way to experience the country's beautiful landscapes and join in the local Christmas celebrations. Rent a caravan today and embark on a memorable holiday adventure in New Zealand!

    Banner CVNZ

    Let’s go on an adventure!

    Unbeatable prices. Premium customer service.

    Book now
    Campervan New ZealandBook now