Friday, 6 January 2012

Christmas in New Zealand

 Christmas at home is an occasion built almost entirely around keeping warm in the winter months, so when it's spent in the summer of the Southern Hemisphere, the traditions and habits seem a little unnatural and redundant. We tried our best to fire up the same excitement for the festive season we'd have in the UK, but no matter how much mulled wine we drank and mince pies we scoffed, the sensation that it was Christmas failed to stir itself. So when it came to the 25th, we'd long since realised that trying to recreate anything like our usual festive traditions was a waste of time. Aside from a tiny tree erected on our van's dashboard, we ensured that our first Christmas in New Zealand was going to be completely different.

On the beach with our tiny tree.
The day promised to be hot and sunny, so where better than the beach to enjoy our antipodean alternative? We headed straight out to Mount Maunganui - a stunning cove on New Zealand's Bay of Plenty coastline overlooked by Mauao - an ancient volcanic core that juts out into the turqoise Pacific waters. The area itself was one of the worst affected by oil slick caused by the grounding of the Rena, the stricken cargo ship that lay fractured on the Astrolab Reef 10 miles out. But aside from its listing silhouette on the horizon, and a few recent shark sightings, there was no visible sign of any of the effects. The beach was pristine, and the waters were clear, and the waves were perfect. 

As a present to ourselves, Amy and I had invested in a second hand sit-on kayak a few days before Christmas so that we could really enjoy and explore the lakes and coastline as we travelled round the country. We'd found ourselves seething with jealousy each time we'd seen something casually float by, so we thought it was about time. Needless to say I spent all morning playing in the surf, paddling with a big grin on my face! Amy was in her element, basking on the beach like a lizard.

That afternoon, we fired up the barbecue. We filled ourselves with big skewers of prawns, with snapper, with juicy corn-on-the-cob, and enormous fillet steaks while we made the most of the beautiful weather. We returned to the campsite that evening to find our friend Helen on reception duty so we spent the evening enjoying more food, bottles of wine and a cheeseboard. Some old habits die hard!

No comments:

Post a Comment