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Traditional Christmas in New Zealand


Most of our Christmas traditions, customs and celebrations are influenced by English practices. However Christmas in New Zealand does have some notable differences. The biggest difference is that we are in summer. So when Santa comes down our chimney, he’s wearing a Hawaiian shirt and sandals!


Christmas Tree

Our traditional Christmas tree is the pohutukawa which blooms in summer and its crimson flowers are ubiquitous throughout our streets and bush areas. Many families will have a small pohutukawa tree in their home decorated with the usual tinsel and baubles. This iconic Kiwi Christmas tree is often featured on greeting cards and in poems and songs. Over the years, it has become an important symbol for New Zealanders at home and abroad.

Christmas Food and Drink


Whilst many New Zealanders still cook a ‘traditional’ Christmas roast, due to the hot weather, barbecues and picnics at the beach or bach/crib are just as popular.

Traditional fruit Christmas cake, pudding and mince pies are still eagerly consumed by New Zealanders, but dessert for Christmas lunch is often pavlova, a delicious mixture of meringue, whipped cream and fresh fruit.

Santa Parades

In the lead up to Christmas local councils will host Christmas parades down the main street for onlookers to enjoy. Local businesses and community groups put together colourful floats and throw out lollies for the kids. To top it all off, an impressive Santa’s float marks the end of the parade.


Given it is the height of summer, many businesses close their doors and we all take our annual holidays. However our retail and tourism sectors are in full swing serving locals and visitors alike.

New Zealand is an extremely diverse society. Today, many people do not recognise Christmas in the same way as the early European settlers did. However, Christmas is a special time for all kiwis. It’s a time to get together with the family and enjoy the great New Zealand summer outdoors.


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