Category Archives: Tauranga

New Zealand Christmas

We’ve come from the frenetic build up to Christmas in London in the middle of a grey and wet December, where daylight fades before 4pm to – in just a few days – a hot and sunny North Island in New Zealand where everything is in full bloom. My favourites are the lilac coloured Jacaranda trees which line many of the roads in the residential areas and the Pohutukawa along the coast – its red blossoms in December have earned it the nickname of the North Island Christmas tree. The best bit of course is that the sun doesn’t set till after 9. What a tonic for a lover of long summer days…

In the supermarket today – 23rd December – I expect to see scores of harassed shoppers doing their big Christmas shop, but it’s much thinner on the ground than I expected and even people with bulging trolleys look more relaxed. Possibly it’s because I’m more relaxed and so I don’t notice it, but with everyone in shorts and t-shirts and probably thinking about their summer holiday which often follows closely after the big day, maybe not. A New Zealand friend who spent last year in the UK tells me she liked the winter Christmas because it was everyone’s focus rather than a rushed occasion before the big holiday exodus.


With Friends in Auckland and Tauranga

A Hot Day in December

We’re walking in the Gordon Carmichael Reserve…

A Sunday afternoon constitutional. We pass by two small gulls by the side of the path. They’re looking a little lost and bemused. It’s a wetland reserve with lakes and water ways, planted with native New Zealand plants, such as NZ flax and Cabbage Trees. It acts as a filtering system for storm drain run-off; the pools settle the sediment and the reeds and water plants filter out the contaminants; a series of walk ways and cycle paths run through it.

‘All the seats are in the sun,’ says Val, ‘which is what you normally want, but not on a hot December afternoon’

It’s not the only incongruity. We are staying with friends, Barbara and John Hill, in Bethlehem. No., it’s not the famous one. It’s a small suburb of Tauranga; situated in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand…