Kiwi Christmas Traditions

It’s December now, so you’re probably hearing Christmas carols every time you walk down the street. Yes – 2018 is nearly upon us, but before we get there, we thought we’d look at some Christmas traditions to get you in the kiwi Christmas spirit for the 25th of December!


Many New Zealand families have a Christmas tree in their homes. While the Pōhutukawa is iconic for its red flowers (so you’ve maybe seen it on Christmas cards), kiwis usually have a traditional tree with decorations. A small pine tree is a good choice, but synthetic trees are also popular because they’re easier.


Kiwis have celebrations and preparation leading up to Christmas day. Most towns hold a Santa Clause parade on the main street. The parades have community groups and local businesses with decorated floats in them – often with a lolly scramble and Christmas carols. Christmas advertising can start in late October so people don’t leave their present buying to the last minute.

Advent calendars are popular for kids – they are a cardboard box with 25 windows that help with the Christmas countdown. Each window is opened on the corresponding day of December and usually contain chocolate.


Christmas music usually includes traditional carols, like Jingle Bells, We Wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer. You won’t miss it, the shops play Christmas songs non-stop!


Since New Zealand is in the Southern Hemisphere Christmas falls in summer, so there’s no chance of a white Christmas here. Unless you count white sand on the beach! Christmas in New Zealand is less about building snowmen and more about having a summer barbeque with family. People (including Santa!) often wear jandals, and a Christmas swim is a pretty common occurrence. Some kiwis choose to go camping for Christmas too, which is a great way to be close to family and nature.


Due to the hot weather, Christmas lunch usually includes ham, chicken, lamb or even venison – and if you’re lucky you might get a few whitebait fritters. On top of this, kiwis eat roast vegetables like pumpkin, carrots, potatoes, and kumara (sweet potato) with coleslaw and gravy on the side. For dessert, pavlova (a type of meringue cake), jelly and ice cream are all popular choices.

Presents can be given out before or after lunch, but lots of families set aside a fair chunk of time for a traditional game of backyard cricket.

Woah – pretty long list, huh? At least you’ve now got everything you need to have a perfect kiwi Christmas. Merry Christmas and a happy new year from the team at OrbitRemit!

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