Christmas in New Zealand: Facts About New Zealand Traditions

Here are some facts about the Christmas traditions, celebrations and customs of New Zealand.

  • Like nearby Australia, Christmas in New Zealand occurs right in the middle of the summer. As a result, many people like to go camping or spend Christmas on the beach with friends.
  • Many New Zealanders decorate their own unique Christmas tree, the Pohutukawa. The tree has bright red flowers and is often shown on the country’s Christmas cards.
  • Christmas cards in New Zealand often feature other symbols of the country, rather than the usual wintry scenes. These include tattooed Maori warriors, kiwis and native plants.
  • Barbecues are popular for Christmas dinner because of the hot weather. Grilled ham, venison or fish is common, as well as desserts including fruit salad, meringues and ice cream.
  • A popular gift at Christmas in New Zealand is a pair of jandals, a shoe that is a combination of sandals and flip-flops. Father Christmas is often shown as wearing sandals.
  • Santa comes down the chimney, visits homes and delivers gifts on Christmas Eve, as in the UK and the US. Children often leave a carrot for the reindeer and some pineapple chunks for Santa.
  • The window display at Smith and Caughey’s department store in Auckland is a popular sight at Christmas. The display often features animated puppets and traditional New Zealand music.
  • Also popular is the Santa parade in Auckland. It has taken place since 1934, and today attracts over 250,000 people who watch the almost 300 floats make their way through the city.
  • The first store Santa appeared at in New Zealand was in 1894. In 1960, Farmers department store in Auckland began the tradition of constructing an 18 metre high Santa outside the store every Christmas.
  • Singing seasonal songs and carols in church is popular during Christmas in New Zealand. However, the words have been changed on some Christmas songs to reflect a sunny and hot weather.

What next? Visit our Christmas Around the World page to discover how people from other countries celebrate Christmas.

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