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Christmas in the Land of the Long White Cloud


By —— Bio and Archives--December 20, 2018

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Pohutakawa -- Photo: Kaiteriteri Recreation Reserve
Meri Kirihimete! That’s “Merry Christmas” in Māori and just one of the many unique things you’ll notice while celebrating Christmas in New Zealand. A Kiwi-style Christmas is all about summer, outdoor fun and relaxation. This doesn’t mean that age-old traditions are ignored; they just get a different treatment. Here’s how some festive celebrations will play out in various corners of New Zealand this holiday season.

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A Christmas Tree—Naturally

In New Zealand, Christmas trees come in many forms. Some are created naturally and need no further decoration—like the pohutakawa, New Zealand’s native Christmas tree. You’ll spot them lining coastal areas of the North Island, blooming with bright crimson flowers over summer and providing the perfect natural shade for beachgoers.

Auckland’s Tallest

The Auckland Sky Tower becomes New Zealand’s tallest Christmas tree when festive-themed lighting illuminates the tower throughout December. At 328 metres (1,076 ft), the Sky Tower is the tallest man-made structure in New Zealand—it weighs 21 million kilos (20,000 tonnes), equivalent to 40 million average-sized Christmas puddings. The Sky Tower will display Christmas lighting until December 27, with a short break before the New Year’s Eve lighting, laser show and fireworks.

And, then there’s the longest… For the first time this year, Auckland Harbour Bridge lights up each night until December 24 with a dazzling light and sound show that repeats every 15 minutes between 9 p.m. and midnight.

Franklin Fairyland

A suburban street in Auckland’s inner city becomes a Christmas wonderland each year when residents adorn their houses and gardens with a dazzling array of Christmas lights. With carol singing and plenty of Christmas cheer, a wander down Franklin Road is sure to build Christmas spirit.

Giapo’s Christmas Treat

The artistic team at the Auckland-based Giapo ice-cream parlour has entered the Christmas spirit in typical innovative style creating a limited-edition “Christmas Hand Bell” to treat customers this season. The bell is an upside-down, white chocolate cup with a waffle cone handle and can be filled with an ice cream of choice, then sealed and decorated.

The Sounds of Christmas

Hallelujah for the tradition of singing Handel’s Messiah at Christmas. There will be several performances throughout New Zealand this year, but none more special than the Auckland Choral 2018 event—which is the choir’s 100th consecutive. Since it was founded in 1855, there have only been two exceptions—the outbreak of World War I and the influenza epidemic of 1918.

Waitomo Caves, in the Waikato region, is a magical setting for the annual Carols in the Cave concert. The excellent acoustics and natural amphitheatre, with twinkling glowworms for ambient lighting, make this a sell-out event.

Happy holidays!


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