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Christmas In New Zealand


Whether you're a local or flying in from far-flung places, you're in the North or South Island or whether you're looking for adventure or a chance to kick back and relax, you're bound to find what you're looking for in New Zealand over Christmas.

Our top tip? Make sure you're keeping an eye out for the Pohutukawa tree, thanks to its pretty crimson flowers that bloom especially vibrantly at Christmastime. It has become part of the Kiwi Christmas tradition making its way onto Christmas cards and into Christmas carols alike.    

North Island 

Auckland

In the North Island, you're likely to find yourself in Auckland for a few days. Pick up a campervan from our Auckland HQ. Head to the Museum of Transport and Technology to see the annual Christmas Lights, which are held between 11 – 24 December. 

Alternatively, make the most of the deserted city as many Auckland-dwellers will have lef tover the holiday season to visit family. Wander through the city centre and bask in the peace and quiet as you appreciate Auckland's notable architecture. Once you've tired your legs out, plop yourself down somewhere in Auckland botanic gardens - the perfect spot for a picnic, a read, or an afternoon nap. With over 10,000 plants from around the world set amongst the gardens, this park is really something spectacular and certainly somewhere pretty special when you're one of the only people there.  

If you fancy driving a little farther afield, Waitakere Ranges Regional Park is only 40 minutes from the city centre but feels a million miles away from anywhere. Thriving wildlife, rugged seascapes, and 16,000 hectares of native rainforest is what makes this park one of New Zealand's national treasures. Another 40 minute drive away is Tawharanaui Regional Park. Sat on a peninsula, Tawharanaui is a combination of sandy beaches, wild forest, and shingly bays- with water activities on offer to boot.

For the beach lovers amongst you, the gorgeous Western beaches will be at their prime during the summer months. Whether you want to soak up the sun, indulge in the glorious views, or get involved in the many water activities there are going on, there's a beach for you.

Sat at the base of Waitakere Ranges Regional Park, Piha is one of Auckland's famously black-sand beaches, known for its dramatic terrain, pounding surf, and stretch of volcanic black sand. A little hike will take you to the enchanting Kiteke Falls and Fairy Falls – worth the visit.

Just 20 minutes from Auckland's Harbour Bridge is Orewa Beach- 3kms of golden sand that has everything from swimming, kite surfing, wind-surfing, and kayaking…or if you're just in the mood to sunbathe, you can do that too! If you can peel yourself up early enough, early risers can catch a fantastic sunrise.

Auckland as well is a fabulous place to be for New Years' Eve. After a relatively quiet period over Christmas, the city will be back to being its usual bustling self and this city knows how to throw a party.

Waikato

A little further down North Island and you'll find yourself in Hamilton. Hamilton is the home to a whole host of magical adventures – most notably Middle Earth itself. Take a tour of Hobbiton and gain a first-hand insight into what filming The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit was like.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the LOTR franchise or The Hobbit, check out Hamilton's other native little creatures aside from hobbits: the glow worms that inhabit the Waitomo Glowworm Caves. If you need something a little more adrenaline-packed to break up the day, try black water rafting or abseiling 100m down into a Lost World...it will certainly make for a different festive season than the usual family affair at home.

Of course, there is still the option of hitting the beach again: Raglan is another water sports hub. The famous left-hand breaks make it a popular surfing beach. The growing arts scene make means the heart of the town is a blend of creative, laid back, interesting individuals- even if you don't hit the beach, sit in the centre of the town and enjoy your vibrant surroundings. 

Wellington

If you're down the bottom of the North Island, then Wellington will keep you entertained over the Christmas period. For foodies, it's the perfect location – Wellington has more bars and restaurants per capita than New York.

For an additional dose of culture, head over to Te Papa, the national museum which allows you to experience the nation's art, culture, and history with stories of the indigenous people and the Maori. Best of all, admission to the museum (which is on the gorgeous waterfront) is absolutely free!

Brilliant Mount Victoria gives you panoramic views of the whole of Wellington. Located right next to Wellington CBD, it's up to you whether you want to drive your way up to the top or walk the 196 metres above the city.

From the top, enjoy the breathtaking views of Tinakori Hill, the Eastern Harbour Bays, and the Miramar Peninsula. Sit down with a Christmas Dinner picnic whilst taking in this stunning site.  

From Wellington, you're just a hop, skip, and a jump (or 29km to be exact) from the South Island.

 

South Island

For those of you missing a Northern-hemisphere Christmas, get your fill of snow scenes with the magnificent Southern Alps. Right from the top of the island, you're close to this magnificent mountain range, which runs right from the tip of the South Island right down to the bottom, through the provinces of Canterbury, Otago, Westland, and Southland. The mountains have snow-capped peaks even in the summer months so if you're used to a wintry Christmas, the Southern Alps gives you the best of both worlds.

For those of you struggling to get your head around the attraction of snowy-peaked mountains in the middle of summer, try to imagine the breath-taking landscape that unfurls at the feet of these 9,000 feet-tall giants: rivers, waterfalls, lakes amongst acres and acres of greenery and wildlife. 

Franz Josef

For a truly relaxing (not to mention awe-inspiring) holiday season, wend your way down to Glacier Country from the top of the Island. Glacier Country is where you can experience the glorious Franz Josef Glacier, Fox Glacier, and Okarito.

Franz Josef is the name of both the glacier and the nearby village. The small but thriving village is surrounded by lush rainforest. The glacier descends from the tops of the Southern Alps right down to this rainforest, which is close to sea level- meaning you'll get the unique opportunity to experience a glacier in an extremely temperate environment. Can you picture a more wonderful Christmas card-perfect scene?

With loads of cycling and hiking routes, kayaking, rafting, and skydiving opportunities just a few minutes drive from the village centre, you won't be twiddling your thumbs here.

Ten minutes drive north of the village takes you to the very beautiful Lake Mapourika, where you can fish, bird-watch or kayak. Alternatively, take a picnic at Lake Matheson where the highest peaks of the Southern Alps, Aoraki, and Mount Cook, are reflected in the crystal waters.

Just a little further afield you'll find Okarito, New Zealand's largest estuarine lagoon. As well as being home to over 70 species of birds, many uncommon, the huge area of shallow open water is perfect for paddling or kayaking.

Queenstown

South of Glacier Country and just as deeply sunken into the Southern Alps is the famous resort of Queenstown. Queenstown is one of New Zealand's best-loved destinations thanks to its' stunning scenery and range of activities- indeed, it's well-known to be the adventure capital of New Zealand. The energy of Queenstown is brilliant all year round, but there is an extra exuberance over the season to be jolly.

Adrenaline junkies will of course be drawn to the bungy jumping, white-water rafting, and canyon swinging. Imagine that? A Christmas Day dropping 134 metres from the sky? Well, that's not for everyone- a more placid Christmas Day might be spent at one Queenstown luxury spas or one of the 200 vineyards in the Otago region, which includes Queenstown and beyond. It goes without saying of course, that if you choose to do a wine tour, make sure your campervan is parked up safely and that you don't drink and drive: have a designated driver or alternate travel plans organised.

Christchurch

On the other side of the island, Christchurch made second place in The New York Times' 52 Places To Go in 2014 so if you're on the North Island, we'd say it's a must-do.

In this city, enjoy the many parks and gardens in the city- Christchurch isn't known as 'The Garden City' for nothing. Enjoy the sunshine in Hagley Park's vast green space or marvel at the gorgeous blooms in The Botanic Gardens. New Zealand's largest inner-city park, The Botanic Gardens offer a little slice of paradise within the fast-paced city and of course, there's no better time to recharge your batteries in idyllic surroundings than over the festive season.

If recharging your batteries is the opposite of what you're looking for and an adrenaline kick is more what you're after, make the fifteen-minute drive over to Christchurch's Adrenalin Forest - a park complete with a massive aerial obstacle course 20 metres above ground, to get through. A slightly slower-paced activity but activity nonetheless, punting along the Avon River allows you to see all the sides of beautiful Christchurch all from the water. As you're taken along the gentle river by a skilled punter in a hand-crafted boat, this sweet journey is definitely one for the couples amongst you.

 

So whether you're driving the North Island or South Island or both over Christmas, see in the festive season with mountains, lakes, beaches, waterfalls, and plenty of sunshine. Christmas in New Zealand is a whole lot more exciting than anywhere else you could imagine. Jump in a Mighty campervan at one of our locations across the North or South Island.

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