Kiwi Christmas – Christmas in New Zealand

Christmas in New Zealand is less about snow and sleigh bells and more about sun, sand and barbecues in the backyard. We’ve provided a range of stories that display some of the quirkier aspects of Kiwi Christmases past and present. You can likewise test yourself on our Kiwi Christmas quiz.

Christmas concerns New Zealand

Gannets for Christmas

In 1642, Abel Tasman’s team commemorated the very first Christmas supper in New Zealand– freshly killed pork from the ship’s menagerie washed down with ‘additional provisions of white wine’. In 1769 James Cook’s team marked the occasion by delighting in ‘Goose pye’ (made with gannet). more …

The first sermon?

Samuel Marsden's first service

The Christmas Day service provided by Church Missionary Society representative Samuel Marsden at Hohi (Oihi) Bay in the Bay of Islands in 1814 is typically pointed out as the very first in New Zealand, but did a French priest travelling with Jean François Marie de Surville in 1769 beat him to it? more …

New Zealand’s Christmas tree

Pohutukawa trees

The stunning pohutukawa is considered New Zealand’s iconic Christmas tree. The pohutukawa likewise holds a prominent location in Maori culture: an 800-year-old tree clinging to the cliffs of Cape Reinga is considered to safeguard the entrance to a spiritual cave through which spirits pass on their way to the next world. more …

Santa parades

Santa parades

Santa or Christmas parades take place throughout New Zealand in November or December each year. They began in the primary centres in the early 1900s. They were developed by department stores to promote the arrival of in-store Santas, with the clear objective of drawing consumers directly into their stores. more …

‘Sticky Beak the kiwi’

Sticky Beak the Kiwi song

Numerous traditional Christmas tunes have actually been adjusted for a New Zealand audience and conditions. One of the most popular New Zealand Christmas songs of the 1960s was ‘Sticky Beak the kiwi’– check out the lyrics and listen to the tune (a Web initially recording?). more …

Santa goes to the Chathams

Santa goes to the Chatham Islands

When Santa Claus visited the remote Chatham Islands in 1951 he swapped his reindeer for a TEAL Solent flying boat. More than 400 of the islands’ 500 occupants cheered him hugely as he stepped ashore from a launch in Te Whanga Lagoon with a huge sack of toys over his shoulder. more …

Politically inaccurate Christmas games

Politically incorrect Xmas games

Before the time of computer systems and mass tv individuals played all sorts of games around Christmas time. A few of these games, such as the ‘Light the cigarette race’ and ‘The Servant Market’, haven’t stood the test of time very well. more …

Kiwi Christmas cards

Christmas card slideshow

Historic Christmas cards combine vibrant imagery with reflections on modern events, such as overseas wars. Familiar New Zealand symbols– tattooed Maori figures, kiwi, tiki and ferns– add a distinctly local flavour to standard Christmas greetings and images. more …

Summertime holidays

Summer holidays

Come late December and countless Kiwis prepare for their yearly holidays. They eagerly anticipate lazy days at the beach or the bach (or crib), games of yard cricket, food on the barbie and the holiday uniform of shorts, jandals and T-shirts. more …

Claus in stores

Stores and Claus

Santa Claus made his commercial launching in New Zealand in 1894 when he took his place, complete with tree and toys, among the furniture in the Wellington DIC shop on Lambton Quay. These days, children have the choice of sending out Santa an email with tips about favored presents. more …

Christmas in wartime

Christmas in wartime

Christmas during wartime provided soldiers a rare chance to relax and enjoy themselves far from the stresses and challenges of combat. It was likewise a time of sadness for numerous New Zealanders, both overseas and back home, as they considered their absent household, fans and buddies far away. more …

A day off for Christmas

A day off at Christmas

It’s difficult for the majority of us today to picture Christmas Day not being a vacation, but a day of rest on 25 December hasn’t always been a legal entitlement. An 1841 paper for 25 December doesn’t even mention Christmas, and the day just became a formal public holiday in 1910. more …

Auckland’s giant Santa

Auckland's giant Santa

In 1960 Farmers erected a huge Santa on their Hobson Street department store in Auckland. He appeared above the shop each Christmas for nearly thirty years. He left Auckland’s CBD in 1990, but was brought back above Whitcoulls’ shop on Queen Street in 1998. more …

Kiwis’ attitude to Christmas

Kiwi's attitude to Christmas

In a 2006 study, Reader’s Digest asked a representative sample of 259 New Zealanders ‘Simply what does Christmas imply to New Zealanders in 2006– and what do we treasure most?’ The results reveal that dinner with the family is still crucial to Kiwis, however the Queen’s message is losing relevance. more …

Christmas Stockings

Christmas Pullovers

Christmas Pullovers

Christmas Dresses

Christmas Dresses

Christmas Jewelry