Is Christmas better hot or cold?

Frosty the Snowman has melted, Santa’s wearing shorts and Rudolph’s nose is only red because it’s sunburnt.

It’s Christmas time in New Zealand, where it really is the most wonderful time of the year.

Pohutukawa - the New Zealand Christmas tree
Pohutukawa: the New Zealand Christmas tree

Christmas sweaters will see no Yuletide joy here, Turkey dinners will be relatively few and far between and snow is about as likely as a jolly fat man delivering presents to all the good little boys and girls of the world.

Instead of chestnuts and mulled wine there will be barbecues and copious amounts of ice-cold beer and instead of a white Christmas it will be a distinctly golden one.

The ice-cream man’s van will chime out like the bells of old Bethlehem and the children of New Zealand will unwrap their presents and tire of them before their counterparts in the United Kingdom even get a chance.

Most Christmas dinners will be cooked on the barbecue and will consist of steak and sausages, salad and seafood, perhaps a Christmas ham, followed by Christmas pudding, pavlova and more beer, wine and champagne.

The beaches of New Zealand will be crowded – well, as crowded as anything ever gets in a country of just four million people – and the cheers of Kiwis playing cricket will ring out through the air.

Weather permitting, of course, this is the idealised Kiwi Christmas.

NZ beach

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world the boys and girls of the United Kingdom sleep, no doubt dreaming of the festivities to come when they wake up on 25 December. It’s a day spent largely indoors, snug and sheltered unless this is the year it finally snows on Christmas Day in London.

But the build up to Christmas is arguably the best part of Christmas in the United Kingdom – and in Europe in general – with Christmas markets springing up across the country and the cold nip in the air necessitating the consumption of copious amounts of mulled wine.

The Turkey dinner is perfect for the clime, as are the Christmas carols and movies shown all day on the telly.

There will be just as much drinking involved, of course, as some brave souls – including lots of Kiwis and Aussies living in South London – will venture out to the handful of pubs that choose to remain open on the holiday.

The Queen’s Royal Message will be the subject of some conversation, debate and dissension, as will the board games you play on Christmas Day in the UK.

At least that was my experience, living and working in London for more than four years.

Me ice-skating in London

So which is better – a cold, wintery Christmas in London (or New York or anywhere else for that matter) or a hot, summery Christmas in New Zealand or Australia?

In a perfect world I’d have a bit of both. I’d travel to the UK for the build up, ice skating in London, visiting Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland and enjoying the lights – if not the crowds – on both Oxford and Regent Streets.

And then I’d be back in NZ in time for Christmas Day, ready to swim at the beach, barbecue and party on until New Year’s Eve. Now that would be the perfect Christmas.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Also check out my partner’s new site for Kiwis and Aussies moving to and living in London as well as my recent blog post Living in London vs life in New Zealand.

About Simon Petersen 506 Articles
Travel blogger, journalist, sports and movie fiend. Chronicling the life and times of a Kiwi at home and abroad.


    • Good call! I’m used to being away from my family for xmas – but it was hard the first time away from home!

  1. I think I’d prefer it the other way around. I’m from the UK and am currently in Australia. I fly home this Thursday so will be home for Christmas.

    I think it is much nicer to shop in warm weather and I loved seeing carol singers in shorts! Only once I’m home curled up by the fire watching snow fall outside on Christmas day will it all be complete.

    • You’re right about it being nicer to shop while it’s warm out but I can’t help but feel the Christmas spirit is better where it’s cold. Still, I certainly wouldn’t complain if I had it the other way around – being here for the build-up to Xmas and being in the UK on the day itself! Have a great Christmas.

  2. I think there’s something pretty great about a cold Christmas. The thing is I live in a tropical country, so I can appreciate the cold knowing full well that in two weeks time the only place I’ll be suffering from hyperthermia is on a bus because the air conditioner is on full blast. At all other times it’s a toasty 30 degrees or so.

  3. Growing up in MIami I never had a white Christmas until I was an adult and had moved to Pennsylvania for a year. I agree with Nora about the strange disconnect of seeing snow in every Christmas movie and then going outside and seeing a sea of green.
    The only fun part of a Tropical Christmas is taking pictures while grilling on the BBQ and sending it to my friends who love up north 🙂

  4. I’ve grown up with Canada’s cold Christmasses (and complained about them a lot), but my last 7 Christmasses have intentionally been tropical…(South Africa, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, Grenada)….and although I generally prefer the warmer weather, there’s an odd disconnect when everything you see on tv and in the media paints an idyllic picture of snow and all the accoutrements of winter, yet it’s the middle of summer.

    One year, confused by why we were singing “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” in Australia when everything was brown outside, I re-wrote the song for summer-Christmas-climates.

    • Nice! Yeah, I honestly never noticed how irrelevant all the Christmas carols were to NZ/Aus until I went to the other side of the world and experienced my first cold one. Now there is definitely a weird disconnect for me – especially hearing of all my mates over there going ice-skating!

  5. Give me London over the tropics any day! I miss shops constantly, so not being able to do my Christmas shopping in a festively decorated Hamleys or in Covent Garden in the midst of the Christmas market is truly devastating. Did you have to post that picture of you ice skating outside the Natural History Museum? I’m actually sobbing. Honestly, I am.
    However, since my last post about having to spend Christmas alone in a strange land , somebody invited us to spend Christmas with them! So not all gloom and doom.

    • Xmas shopping is definitely A LOT more fun in London! You have a good eye, spotting that it was the Natural History Museum I’m ice-skating in front of. Sorry to make you feel bad – my first Xmas in London was pretty tough, dealing with the cold and being away from family and friends. Hope it goes well!

  6. It’s a bit of a mind switch to go from one hemisphere to the opposite at this time of the year! I have a hard time deciding which I like better! While I will almost always choose sun and sand over snow and cold, I do appreciate the classic stereotypical Christmas… but the relaxed atmosphere of summer Christmas has really grown on me over the past four years!

    • I know what you mean, I’ve kinda done the opposite of you – going from hot Christmases to cold ones. There is just something special about a cold Christmas, being warm and snug indoors. But then I also like to go outside and play with all my new toys!

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