Saturday, January 14, 2012

Christmas in New Zealand

Kiwi Jingle Bells
Dashing to the bay, in a Kombi campervan
Christmas at the beach-The family's master plan

Dad is at the wheel, and Mum sits by his side,
We kids are squabbling in the back, As we go for a ride

Oh Jingle Bells. jingle bells, jingle all the way
Christmas in New Zealand on a sunny summer's day
Jingle Bells, jingle Bells,jingle all the way,
Oh what fun it is to have a kiwi holiday

We stop off at the shops, to load the chilly bin
Hokey-Pokey ice cream soon dribbles down my chin
We jump into the van,heading for the shore
Dad fiddles with the radio to hear the Kiwi score

Soon we're at the beach, Our rellies shout "G'day"
We swap our Chrissie presents, a boogie board-Hooray 
We change into our togs and to the sea we run
What a joy to splash and swim, Summer's so much fun

The grown-up's call us in, They've laid us out a spread:
Lunch is fish n chips, and cheerios in bread
L&P to drink, Pavlova, pud and pie
Anzac bikkies, choccy fish it's cracker kiwi Kai!

The kid's are keen to play, but the dad's all want to nap
Sunscreen starts to fly
As mum's go slip-slop-slap
We race out to the sand, to play a game of touch
But the cuzzies are all too slow, because they ate too much

The barbecue heats up, the sun begins to sink 
Our tea's as good as gold
We've scoffed it in a wink
It's nearly time for bed, we've had an awesome day
Celebrating Christmas time the real New Zealand way!

Christmas in New Zealand is less about snow and sleigh bells, and more about sun, sand, and backyard barbecues. Santa travels in a black singlet, little white shorts, and gum boots- of course!! He is pulled by miniature tractor and eight tiny sheep. Even though Santa travels quite differently here in the Southern hemisphere, and we were using the words summer and Christmas in the same sentence, we were still reminded that the holidays are simply about spending time with the ones we love. So when we went to the airport  to pick up Brad's parents, his sister, and niece to spend the holidays with us we were simply ecstatic. The kids had gotten out for their summer break on Dec.15th and they had been anxiously awaiting the arrival of  family. We had a nasty weather system move into NZ about 10 days before they arrived. It had rained everyday, and the morning they arrived the front moved out and we had awesome weather for about 8 days. Brad's parents live in CT, and his sister, Steph, and niece, Sloane, live in Boston. Brad's other sister, Molly came after Christmas for 6 days with her oldest daughter, Laley.  They had about 34 hrs. of travel time but yet they showed up smiling and ready to see what all Taranaki had to offer. We took them hiking, biking, surfing, you name it we did it. Brad's parents were here for 3 weeks and every day we took them to see something new and different, and I was only halfway through my list when they left. The culinary tour was included also as we took them to our favorite Thai, Indian, French and seafood Cafe's.  They called this place "Utopia", and "Shangri-La". Which was great to hear because we think the same thing of this tiny village called Oakura that we get to call home. 
I had wanted to have a real Kiwi Christmas, and so we did. On Christmas Day we woke up, opened gifts, had breakfast on the deck, and then put on our togs and jandals and headed to the beach. We cooked on the barbie for dinner, and had pavlova for dessert. It was a blast, a Christmas Day we will always remember. The kids got less gifts, but were more happy than years past. It was refreshing for me because Christmas was less about buying stuff, and more about just being together.  My decorations were very simple, a real Christmas Tree, and a Poinsettia on my kitchen table. I wanted my kid's to have a taste of home so we made our traditional sugar cookies, and a Gingerbread house. Christmas takes on a very different look when you add summer and it can be somewhat of a culture shock. A relaxed kiwi-style christmas where the emphasis is on the outdoors to eat, play and be merry was ideal for our family lifestyle. And the fact that Brad's family was here to celebrate with us was the icing on the cake!! 

Hiking on Mt. Taranaki

Brad, Bo, and Steph at a delicious winery for Bo's birthday dinner.

The cousins at the birthday dinner.

Hiking at Pukeiti Park

Taking Surf lessons

Christmas Eve Ham 

Christmas Eve

Christmas Day
Christmas Breakfast
Taking a break at Mt. Mangamahoe
Christmas Eve

Papa David reading "A Kiwi Night Before  Christmas"

Brad's other sister Molly arrived a few days after Christmas  with her  daughter Laley.  Molly also has  1 year old and a 2 year old that she left at home with Daddy. She was only able to come for 6 days but we were able to fit in a lot of activities and show her New Plymouth.

Boat ride on Chaddy's Charter's

falling asleep on Chaddy's Charter's


New Year's Eve roasting marshmallows. Brad's Mom brought the ingredients for smores from the states. They were delicious!!

My good friend Daryl did a rotary exchange in Japan for year when she was 17 and has remained very close with her host family over the years. She had 11 guests come from Japan and stay with her and her family for 10 days. We had Daryl and her family over for a New Year's Eve Toast. They do not speak any english nor do we speak any Japanese so we all stood around smiling at each other and nodding our heads. It was lots of fun and one we will always remember. 
Taking a break on Te Rewa Rewa Bridge after biking the coastal walkway.
Getting a snack on the Coastal walkway.

Eating our snack on the surfboard lunch tables!!

Lindsey and Aunt Molly

Brad and Molly hiking up high in a cloud on Mt.Taranaki

Molly and Laley at the Sugar Loaf Islands.
Pukekura Park has the Festival of Lights. The park is transformed into a wonderland of lights over the summer months, the park has live music every night as well as the spectacular lightening displays.  It is a blast for the young and old!! The festival of Lights is "Boardwalk" on New Zealand Monopoly. 

This is the Pohutukawa Tree, which is also called the NZ Christmas Tree. They are all over the  country and they produce a very dramatic,bright red bloom during the month of December.  They are simply stunning, and a true symbol of Christmas for most Kiwi's. 
Steph overcame her fear of heights by hiking to the top of Mt. Paritutu
After Steph, Molly, Sloane and Laley headed back to the East Coast we drove David and Bo 5 hrs. South to the capital city of Wellington. The kids loved stopping along the way and showing their grandparents their favorite playgrounds. We even discovered a new fruit stand that sold the most delicious berries. So with our tummies full of strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries we headed into the city for a few days of sightseeing. 
The Wellington Cable Car is one of Wellington's oldest and most popular tourist attractions. It goes to the Botanic Gardens and has an awesome overlook of the city and harbour. 

The most beautiful Hydrangea's

The kids loved this this bungee jumping in Wellington!

I discovered this great look point at the top of Mt.Victoria on my run that morning. I stumbled upon a steep uphill hiking trail and curiosity got the best of me and so I followed the trial all the way up and found a beautiful 360 degree view of the city. 

Top of Mt.Victoria