No snow, not even cold.. how are you ever going to get into Christmas mood? Maybe this is even the first ever Christmas without your family and you might feel homesick at this special time of the year. Christmas time is usually associated with spending time with your family, so what to do when they are on the other side of the world?
Sounds like it's going to be a boring and lonely holiday!? On the contrary - with a bit of planning and the right people around you it might even be the best Christmas ever!
Think about it... while all your friends and family back home are in holiday stress and run around freezing, you get to relax on the beach and spend your days enjoying summer, sand and sun!
How Kiwi's celebrate Christmas
For Kiwi's the first sign of Christmas coming is the blossoming of the Pohutukawa tree. Because it always blossoms bright red around Christmas time it is also known as the New Zealand Christmas tree.
But also traditional Christmas trees, as you might know from back home, still find their way into Kiwi homes, however often they are artificial. In terms of gifts - plenty find space underneath the trees and are usually opened December 25th.
In general, since many Kiwi families are descendants from various countries, a lot of different traditions are found - especially when it comes to food. While some families have traditional British Christmas meals, many celebrate the holiday according to the temperatures - with awesome barbecues!
How to spend YOUR Kiwi Christmas?
New Zealand is definitely going to give you a different Christmas experience! It is summer, everyone is going to the beach and enjoying the outdoors. So you too better go outside and enjoy the weather, since you are probably not going to spend many summer Christmases in your lifetime (unless of course you love it so much here that you are considering to move to the southern hemisphere some day).
Here are some ideas how you could spend your best summer Christmas:
1. Barbecue at the beach
Gather your friends and spend the (hopefully) sunny day at the beach swimming, surfing, playing beach volleyball, tanning or whatever else you like.
Afterwards grab all your ingredients and prepared salads etc. and fire up your own barbecue (make sure there are no fire bans and that barbecues are allowed) or find one of the many free or coin operated barbecues around the country.
Bring a variety of meats, salads, sauces, vegetable skewers and drink and don't forget plates, cutlery and cups.
Enjoy your food and make sure to pack all your rubbish afterwards and clean up after yourselves!
2. International Potluck Dinner
Backpackers are international - so if everyone brings a dish from their home country, be it traditional Christmas food, or just their favourite meal, there is going to be a lot of different and interesting food on the table. Just make sure you plan who will bring what part of the dinner (appetizer, main course, dessert, drinks, snacks, etc.), so you are not only having dessert.
Or... nah, that actually sounds delicious - but maybe have one or two main course options too!
The more friends and the more nationalities the better so you can have a big buffet of awesome new foods!
3. Secret Santa
While you're on the road, space is precious and the budget is tight. Still you want to treat your friends to something nice at Christmas. Consider doing Secret Santa among the group of friends you are going to spend Christmas with. Everyone get's a little something, but you don't have to spend a fortune to buy for everyone. Here's how it works: You write the names of everyone who's attending on a small piece of paper and fold it, so you can't read the name a few weeks or days before Christmas. Put them in a bucket and let everyone draw so no one else can see the name. Everyone then buys a little gift to the one written on the paper and they are exchanged on Christmas. It can also be fun for everyone to guess who it is from!
If you are on the lookout for an awesome Christmas present: what about a surf lesson? You can easily buy a gift card here and they can just choose the preferred date themselves.
Don't leave all the decision until the last minute. Sure.. sometimes the best adventures are the spontaneous one's, but especially in terms of purchasing food and booking accommodation (even just a campground) you will want to have everything you need sorted - it'd be a shame if you had nowhere to sleep with all your friends and cereals as Christmas dinner.
So plan ahead if you want to gather all of the new friends you've met along the way so you can spend a different kind of "family Christmas" and have an epic dinner or lunch together.
If you've just arrived in New Zealand and haven't met other backpackers yet, staying at a hostel or WWOOFing are great opportunities to meet new friends over Christmas. Usually hostels or WWOOFing places have some kind of Christmas activity and probably even offer a delicious dinner for their guests Christmas day.
If you're travelling in a Camper van - decorate it to get the Christmas feeling, even if the temperature don't really match your! For inspiration on how to pimp your camper have a look here.