Christmas in New Zealand is the time of summer holidays with the family, BBQs on the beach, games of backyard cricket and life in shorts and jandals.
It might be a different season here compared to the Northern Hemisphere with their Christmas Markets in the snow but one thing remains the same: Eating is one of the most important aspects of Christmas. A recent survey revealed that 72% of Kiwis prefer a traditional roast dinner for that special occasion. And why not, it is a tradition that goes a long way back: The first celebration of Christmas in New Zealand coincided with Abel Tasman’s voyage to New Zealand in 1642. On 20 December his expedition reached the Manawatu coast of the North Island before crossing the entrance of Cook Strait and anchoring east of Stephens and D'Urville islands. Here the crew encountered what many Wellingtonians have become used to at Christmas time – poor weather. While sheltering from a storm, the Dutch enjoyed the first Christmas dinner in New Zealand – freshly killed pork from the ship's menagerie washed down with extra rations of wine.
When asked what they like most about Christmas, two-thirds of New Zealand’s population feel that the very best thing is spending time with family and friends. It’s hard to imagine that Christmas time hasn’t always been what it is today, but it wasn’t until the 1920s that the summer break we know now started to be popular in New Zealand. Improved transport links boosted the summer break. The number of automobiles grew rapidly in the 1920s and 1930s, but most inter-war holidaymakers travelled by rail. On Christmas Eve 1934, five express trains carrying 1800 travellers left Wellington for stations along the North Island main trunk line. Four years later, eight trains ferried more than 3000 passengers northwards. By the 1950s the private automobile was the preferred means of getting away from it all. With cars, people could pack food and gear for prolonged holidays over the Christmas–New Year period. As cars took people further away from home, campsites were developed. Beaches were ideal places for camping, and from the 1920s, permanent baches or cribs could be found at many beaches. Caravans came on the scene from the 1940s, giving holidaymakers even more options.
No matter if you spend your well deserved holidays in a bach on the beach, in a hut in the mountains or simply at home with your loved ones: The team at Harris Mountains Hell-Ski wishes you a Merry Christmas!