Expats spending Christmas in New Zealand’s summer ‘sweating walking down the street’

Lisa Faulkner shares her tips for Christmas dinner

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Expats who relocate to the other side of the world experience completely different seasons. With winter in summer and summer in winter, Christmas happens when the sun is shining and the beach is calling.

Christmas in New Zealand is usually sunny and the native Pōhutukawa trees bloom red.

Comedian Melanie Bracewell wrote on Twitter: “I love Christmas in New Zealand. It’s the middle of summer, boiling hot. But every shop is playing ‘Let it snow’ and ‘I’m dreaming of a white Christmas’. The mall Santas are dying of heat in their fluffy suits, people have inflatable snowmen in their front yards. No one questions it.”

And Kiwi user Dampy replied: “I’m at the mall and all the decorations are snow-themed with polar bears.”

Twitter user Jonathan Giles said: “You know it is Christmas time in New Zealand when the Pohutukawa is blossoming. It’s the Kiwi Christmas tree!”

But despite the red-blossomed trees, Christmas music and snow-themed decorations, expats from the Northern hemisphere can get slightly confused.

British expat Elliott told Express.co.uk: “If you’re from the northern hemisphere you will always associate December with the cold and then July with the warm.

“Even after almost three years in New Zealand, when it starts to get warmer I think it’s April.
“I have to make a conscious effort to figure it out.” 

Another British expat, Charlie, said he liked it.

He told Express.co.uk: “I like it! It’s nice to able to go out in the sun but I find it doesn’t feel as Christmassy as at home.

“I think family has a lot to do with that. That’s the only thing I really miss: friends and family.”

Working as a chef, Charlie was still planning on one Christmas tradition, summer or winter.

He said: “You still have to have the big roast dinner though. You can’t change that even if it is 30 degrees!”

While Charlie had no family in New Zealand, he was planning on spending Christmas with “12 people from work” at one of his manager’s house.

Even for expats from slightly warmer climes than the UK, a Christmas down under required some adjustments.

Spanish expat Violeta was planning on travelling to Whangarei, in the North of New Zealand for Christmas.

She said: “The first impression I got is that it was weird to have Christmas in summer.

“I had this idea in my head: warm clothes, hot drinks, Santa and the reindeers, who live in the North Pole (again, cold).

“My brain doesn’t compute all the Christmas decorations everywhere when I’m sweating walking down the street.”

She said she missed the “cosiness” of Christmas in the Northern hemisphere and “being under a blanket with a hot chocolate in my hands”.

While last year was a friends’ affair, Violeta said: “Sadly, this year we don’t have many friends left in the country.”

New Zealand borders have remained largely closed to international travellers and many of her friends have gone back to their home countries.

Violeta said: “I’m still thinking about how long I’m going to stay, but plans always change.”

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