As my parents abandoned me just before Christmas, I was initially looking forward to a rather bleak one all by myself in my car in some camp ground in the middle of nowhere. FUN! But my amazing friend Jess rescued me from this grim prospect and so I was invited to spend Christmas with her, and her husband’s family in Wellington.
Christmas in New Zealand is rather strange. For one, it’s HOT – this means no wrapping up warm and rushing into the nearest shop playing festive music, or enjoying a gluhwein after a candle-lit carol service, or sitting by the fire in a small pub in the countryside – yes, this is actually what my Christmases are usually like. Alternatively, Kiwi’s enjoy BBQ’s on the beach, a cold beer on the sun deck, and enjoying Cliff Richard’s finest Christmas tune whilst wondering around in your ‘jandals’ and ‘togs’. It’s just… weird. And it doesn’t feel like Christmas. There’s none of the hype, there’s limited decorations and of course, there aren’t any Yorkshire puddings to go with your traditional roast dinner.
It actually felt more Christmassy in Queenstown! Naturally, over the winter we celebrated ‘Christmas in July’, along with the whole of the town and the ski fields. Christmas trees were put up for the occasion, the town was covered in lights and the mountain staff wore their best Christmas jumpers. In my house we enjoyed a traditional roast dinner – with ALL the trimmings – and we participated in a house ‘Secret Santa’. It was cold, there was snow and we had a fire. Nuff said.
Having said that, Christmas in Wellington – where we enjoyed beautifully long hot and sunny days (which I’m told isn’t the norm) for the period, was a unique and unforgettable experience. I wore my palm tree shirt, I went for a dip in the (admittedly VERY cold) ocean, and partook in the classic Kiwi BBQ. Christmas with the Wilsons was different, but fantastic.