Day 97: Christmas in Auckland

It’s crazy hard to keep up a blog in New Zealand in the summertime! The weather is getting warmer and warmer, the sun is out and Christmas is in the air. This is my first time spending Christmas in the city – we were camping in the South Island this time last year. It’s still pretty crowded here now but I understand from friends that it will empty out over Christmas since everyone heads to the beach.

There’s a bit of a trend in Auckland to dress up for Christmas – I mean in costumes, not just dressing nicer necessarily. I don’t know why and my coworker is from NZ and said it’s a relatively new thing but you see office parties with people in reindeer antlers and elf hats and Santa costumes but you also see people having theme parties almost like Halloween. We were walking down the street the other day behind a young woman with what looked like a white smock with cotton balls all over it dyed pink. We don’t know what exactly she was supposed to be but she wasn’t quite sober and was leaving a trail of pink cotton on the street as she walked.

There’s quite a bit to do here though if you’re in town at Christmas. A few of the things we’ve discovered are below:

  • Farmer’s Santa Parade – on the 27th of November, Farmer’s (a local department store) had a Santa Parade through downtown Auckland. There were crowds everywhere and a lot of people came to the CBD for it. It’s nothing like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in the U.S. of course but well worth a peek. We got lucky and the parade went right under our apartment so we had a bird’s eye view.
  • Franklin Street – Franklin Street in Ponsonby has an awesome light display. It’s pretty easy walking distance from downtown but Franklin Street is on a bit of a hill so be prepared to climb upward. Most of the houses and some of the businesses get into it and there are lights, videos, all up and down the street. One house even had an entire room in the front of the house that had a Christmas scene filling the entire room with a toy train and houses and a village. If you drive, be prepared for a long line (queue) and bring some patience.
  • Another fun light display is at Karaka Lakes (20 Cornwall Place). This is pretty far outside Auckland CBD so you’d have to drive. There was a parking lot (carpark) and lots of people walking but we drove. Many houses had lights but it wasn’t as centralized as Franklin Street. There was a Mr. Whippy ice cream truck there though!
  • Smith & Caughey – if you walk by this store in the CBD they have a Christmas display set up in the store window that is pretty well known. It’s a bit odd to me though as they are look like puppets. The theme is ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’ this year but the display has snakes and other animals? It’s a quick little diversion though and they also offer pictures with Santa but they aren’t cheap.
  • At Aotea Square in the CBD they have a giant Lego Christmas tree and figures made of Legos. It’s also a quick visit but worth a look.

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