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The 12 Trips of Christmas: A Kiwi Christmas

If you are headed to New Zealand this holiday season, we have it on good authority that you are in for a treat. Start your holiday with a trip to the beach for some sun, surf and top notch barbecue. Then head into town for a variety of holiday festivals, concerts, Christmas markets, Santa parades and more.

In New Zealand, Santa has been known to ride into town on a train, on the back of an elephant, and even parachute in from above. Such theatrics are only seen during the Santa Parades that take place across the country during November and December.

Before you get too caught up in Christmas merriment and roasted meats, be sure to find a pohutukawa tree, New Zealand’s Christmas tree. Also known as the “Settler’s Christmas Tree” or the “Antipodean Holly,” the beautiful pohutukawa tree has been revered as the official Christmas decoration since 1833. This tree is held in such high regard that Christmas carols have been written about it and its red, white and green splendor. According to traditional lore, a special pohutukawa tree grows on the edge of a sea cliff in Cape Reigna; this 800-year-old tree is said to mark the “place of leaping” or a place where spirits begin their journey home. (Probably not a good idea to get too close to this particular tree.)

On Christmas Eve, it won’t be a parachute, an elephant or eight reindeer that guide Santa’s way, it will be Sticky Beak the kiwi bird. According to a popular song composed in the 1960s, Sticky Beak is a New Zealand native who is very protective of the southern hemisphere and makes sure that Santa uses him to guide the sleigh. (Check out these other Christmas songs that have been adapted to suite New Zealand’s culture.)

December 17, 2014

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