Meri Kirihimete (Merry Christmas) from iStudent Complaints – This is our 2019 Christmas Guide for International Students in NZ

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Season’s greetings! Welcome to a summer Christmas in New Zealand. Alternatively, happy holidays (if Christmas isn’t a big deal for you). If you are a student, this will probably be the most relaxing time of the year with school and University holidays held over this period.

A mix of traditions and climates
Christmas in New Zealand is a mixture of the traditions of that of the UK with that of Kiwi culture and very different weather conditions! This means that; stockings, gifts, carols, decorations and Christmas trees are all very much a part of a NZ Christmas, but the setting is one of sand instead of snow. With (hopefully) no cold weather, as well as no hot chocolate or wrapping up warm by the fire required. Instead, Kiwis make use of the summer weather, hanging out at the beach, sipping cold drinks and having a barbecue in the sunshine. Christmas activities popular in colder climates such as snowball fights and sledding are replaced by backyard/beach cricket and surfing.

Religious holiday
Many New Zealanders are religious and will go to church on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning. Celebrating the reason behind Christmas (Christ-Mass or Mass of Christ) where Christians gather to celebrate the birth of Jesus. It is purported that Christmas was first celebrated on December 25th in 336, during the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine (he was the first Christian Roman Emperor). However, no birthdate for Jesus is given in the Bible. Performances of the nativity and advent calendars are also popular around this time.

Christmas for all
The day has significant meaning for those who aren’t Christian as well however. Many workers are given the day off in NZ and most families use this time to catch up with one another. People open presents on Christmas morning, with children receiving their presents in stockings or Santa sacks and/or from under the tree. Christmas trees in NZ can be fake pine, a real pine tree or New Zealand’s own festive tree with striking red flowers, that blooms only in summer, the Pōhutukawa. Trees are decorated with tinsel, Christmas lights, baubles and topped with whatever the family thinks will be most significant (I.e. a star, angel or other object with meaning). Nothing says Christmas like putting up a tree and decorating it at home.

The Christmas feast
Families come together and celebrate with a Christmas lunch or dinner, depending on how far around the country they are travelling. The lunch (or dinner) usually consists of, one or a combination of, the following; barbecued meat, hangi, roast turkey, roast ham, roast vegetables, salads, and summer fruits. The food is served, and the table is also laden with Christmas crackers, numerous drinks (such as sparkling grape juice) and other festive decorations. Dessert choices include pavlova, fruit mince pies, Christmas pudding, and other baking.

Kiwi Santa
In New Zealand, Christmas is still dictated by the three colours; red, green and white. Our Santa still has a big white beard and is usually dressed up in his red Santa suit, though some choose to give him a surfboard, sunglasses and swimming togs rather than his regular winter coat and boots. He still loves to eat a cookie or two! You can find him at the shopping mall, in numerous workshops across the country and on rooftops or on lawns across the country when people decorate the outside of their houses for Christmas during the light-up Christmas event. You can also see decorations across the major cities, such as the Christmas lights along Oriental Parade in Wellington.

Things to do around Christmas time
In the lead-up to Christmas there are many Christmas themed events across the country that you can get involved in. These include; parades, carols, shows, workshops, scavenger hunts, lights and exhibitions. On Christmas day most shops are closed, so get everything on your to do list ticked off and the groceries sorted before December 24th. On the day, hopefully the weather cooperates, and you can head to your nearest beach with your friends or family, or just relax, eat and be merry at home in the sunshine.

Who are iStudent Complaints and what can we help you with?
iStudent Complaints is an independent dispute resolution scheme established by the New Zealand Government. Our objective is to encourage swift settlement of contractual and financial disputes between international students and their providers in New Zealand. As an independent and impartial service, we are not affiliated with any Education providers.

Why did we do this blog?
Even if we need to step in one day to help you resolve a dispute, we want you to enjoy studying and living in our amazing country as much as we do. To that end, we’ve created this content so that you may continue to explore and experience the best New Zealand can offer.