Since its summer in New Zealand over the holidays, Christmas is celebrated a bit different here. Red, green and white represent the red flowers on the Pohutukawa tree, the lush green forests and white sand beaches. Instead of turkey dinners, it’s beach BBQs with salads. Pavlova, a meringue-based dessert topped with fresh fruit (usually Kiwis) is a must-have over the holidays here, replacing the traditional fruitcake or pumpkin pie. It’s very delicious and light – a perfect hot summer dessert!


The Pohutukawa, known as the New Zealand Christmas tree, is a coastal evergreen tree that blossoms beautiful vibrant red flowers called kahika all over the country at this time of year. They line every street here in Wellington and make up for the lack of light filled trees normally on every corner in Canada over the holidays. It almost looks like red Christmas ornaments are hung on every tree.

Pohututawa Tree
Pohututawa Tree blossoms

Christmas lights on houses are very sparse as well. I have yet to see a house lit up, but considering it doesn’t get dark till almost 10pm, it’s no wonder people don’t bother. We did come across a house up the road with a few lights and decorations in the window, but that was the extent of it! I have heard there are some pocket subdivisions (similar to Halloween) who do go all out (most likely expats from North America) but I haven’t come across that yet.

Only house I have come across decorated for Christmas

I even came across a few unique New Zealand Christmas songs, some re-makes of traditional songs sung in Maori like “Oh Holy Night” and “Silent Night“, but I thought this one, “Sticky Beak the Kiwi” was such a gem I just had to share!


Lastly, one thing New Zealanders do well are their Christmas parties! I was lucky enough to be invited to 3 at my work and ALL involved several drinks with my co-workers whether it was a party on the beach, lunch & drinks in the office or a night out on the town! Jordan spent a night on a booze cruise in the harbour while teams battled it out on the karaoke machine in their Pop Stars themed costumes! His CEO even dressed up as Santa Clause and handed out gifts to everyone in the company. Great way to spread the holiday cheer!

What’s your favorite holiday tradition?