I was talking to one of our former Swiss students on Instagram the other day, and she was telling me all about the wonders of a winter Christmas in Switzerland. That got me to thinking about what the iconic elements of a New Zealand Christmas are that make it so special.

To find out what makes a New Zealand Christmas so great, I asked Languages International staff what they love about a Kiwi Christmas. As our name suggests, we are an international bunch here at LI. Many of us are originally from other countries and the rest of us have lived abroad at some point, so we are in a good position to appreciate the idiosyncrasies of Christmas in New Zealand.

Below you can read what some of our staff associate with a Kiwi Christmas. I hope you get to enjoy some of these things during your Christmas in New Zealand too.

You’ll notice most of us mention pōhutukawa trees. This beautiful tree is known as the “New Zealand Christmas tree” because its bright red flowers bloom at Christmas time.

“I associate a Kiwi Christmas with hot sunny days, wearing jandals, the beach or park, swimming, playing cricket or throwing a frisbee, eating and drinking far too much yummy food and wine, having fun with family and friends, especially seeing the excitement on children’s faces with their new toys, beautiful pōhutukawa trees in flower, listening to infamous Christmas tunes 😊 What more could you want?”
– Kate

Cathedral Cove

“Pōhutukawa along the beach in brilliant red colours! And picnics on the beach.”
– Dérene

“I have to agree with Dérene on the pōhutukawa – very iconic and beautiful. Also, sunshine and warmth – feeling the warmth of summer, enjoying blue skies and the sound of splashing water, BBQs, beaches, long days and beautiful sunsets over the sea 🤗”
– Andrea

A game of cricket on the beach

“1. Beach cricket with the brothers
2. Running in the Waitaks followed by Xmas lunch then an evening swim.
3. Heading off under full sail to Great Barrier Island on Boxing Day.
4. Looking after waifs and strays on Xmas Day (we usually have odd travellers, lost students, homeless runners etc.) join us.
5. The fact that it isn’t freezing cold.”
– Nick

Pavlova: 71% of New Zealanders will have pavlova for dessert on Christmas day

“Pōhutukawa tree blossoms, BBQs on the beach, pavlova for dessert and kayaking on the water.”
– Tracy

Pōhutukawa blossom

“Christmas in NZ for me equals pōhutukawa trees! I am obsessed with them – I have always been ever since I arrived here all those years ago (14!). I stop and take photos whenever I can. I have a dwarf pōhutukawa on my balcony and I get really excited when it blossoms! I’ve only had three flowers max, but it does make me really happy! I also love all the swims, fish and chips and picnics on the beach.”
– Melissa

What do you love about Christmas in New Zealand?

What do you love about Christmas (or another important holiday celebration) in another country where you have lived?