Christmas in New Zealand

Christmas day started a bit earlier than I would have liked.  I was up by 615am, so that I could eat breakfast and pack before our 730am departure from Franz Josef.  The timing wasn’t ideal as we had one of our second longest travel day of the trip (about six hours including stops).  Most travel days are broken up a bit with stops here and there, but it was a bit harder Christmas day since most places were closed.  So, our stops were kept to scenic views like Thunder Creek Falls and Lake Hawea.

Thunder Creek Falls

Trail to Thunder Creek Falls Thunder Creek FallsLake Hawea

Lake Hawea Lake HaweaOnce we made it to Queenstown, we had a bit of time to relax and prepare for our Christmas gift exchange and dinner.

Our gift exchange was “white elephant” style.  I ended up with a frisbee that I donated to the “van” for subsequent travelers to use.  Our tour leader’s mom also bought gifts for everyone.  It was really fun to have a bit of traditional gift giving.

Group with Our GiftsAfter gifts were unwrapped and safely tucked away in our rooms, we headed to dinner at Ivy and Lola’s.  It was a preset menu with a couple of choices.  I had…

  • Starter:  Tio Point oyster with champagne and chili jelly (that I quickly passed along to someone else) and a glass of champagne.
  • Entree:  Wild rabbit and smoked pork terrine with pickled cherries and french bread.
  • Main:  Roast turkey, chargrilled ham and pineapple chutney, minted new potatoes, wild thyme and honey glazed baby carrots with smoked pork and cranberry stuffing.
  • Dessert:  Christmas pudding with caramel custard, brandy snap and mixed berry fool with meringue.

A couple of notes about dinner.  I’d already learned that “entree” in New Zealand means the same thing as “appetizer” in the United States.  What I didn’t know was “pudding” is not “pudding”.  Christmas pudding was a cross between fruit cake and spice cake (luckily it was more like spice cake).  I was glad to know that I wasn’t the only American to be surprised when they delivered dessert.


Being full with both food and new friendships, most of us continued our spree of early evenings.

Over-all Christmas was good.  I desperately missed my friends and family and wished I could have called some of you, but at least I got to Skype with my mom twice on Christmas in the United States (which was the 26th here).

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