It’s December the 4th. Turkeys are filling the supermarkets, reduced priced advent calendars are flying off the shelves and it is now officially acceptable to put up your Christmas tree (in my eyes anyway). Christmas to me has always boiled down to one important thing, family. For 23 years I have spent Christmas with my family, especially my sisters, Mum and Dad, nieces and brother in laws. These guys to me are the meaning of Christmas and the reason why I look forward to it every single year. Without them there would be a lot less noise, laughter, baileys consumed and good food eaten. Present opening, playing with new toys, eating incredible food (never prepared by myself) and relaxing in front of the television, sneakily watching the Coronation Street Christmas special with my Mum while the rest of the family moans. Each year I have spent Christmas in a safe and loving environment and it makes me an incredibly fortunate 24 year old.
In Aberdeenshire where I have spent the majority of my christmases we wish for snow on Christmas day so we can make snowmen, have family snowball fights and then come in to drink hot chocolate and baileys by the fire. Family, Christmas crackers, pigs in blankets, snow, fire, too much gin, marks and spencer’s, these all mean Christmas to me.
This year I am lucky enough to be in the Southern hemisphere and there’s a good chance the temperature could be above 20 degrees celsius. The first time I saw a Christmas tree in New Zealand I burst out laughing. Christmas carols have been playing in supermarkets since the middle of November “Let it snow, let it snow let it snow” comes over the intercom while suncream is on a 2 for 1 offer. Christmas markets are replaced with farmers markets (except the year round Christmas village in the below video) and woolies are substituted for sun hats. I still giggle every time we pass a Christmas tree. Do I feel in the Christmas spirit? Not in the slightest, but I do feel lucky to experience this version of Christmas.
In 19 days two good friends are flying to New Zealand from Australia to join Carolyn and I for Christmas in the sun. We have booked an Airbnb just next to Lake Wanaka with the plan to BBQ, drink beer and enjoy the sun. It may be 11,000 miles away from my family but the principle is still very much the same. Spending time with individuals I love dearly.
New Plymouth on a Budget
Mount Taranaki: This is a pretty obvious one for New Plymouth but I can’t stress enough how impressive this volcano is. The size and stature of it across a relatively flat landscape is amazing. You can drive up to a number of different view points on the volcano or for those who have the correct equipment/go at the right time of year can climb to the summit. There are also a number of shorter walks that go from the different view points for those not looking to reach the summit.
Dawson Falls: From Dawson Falls Visitor Centre there is a short walk down to Dawson Falls. There are also awesome views of Mount Taranaki from the visitor centre.
Christmas Village: Probably not worth the drive out to the ‘Village’ however if you want to try and get in the Christmas spirit while in the Southern hemisphere it is a pretty good place to start!