For most people, Christmas is time for family and traditions which are rooted deeply in each of us. We are fixed on these cultural habits and we rarely can get used to something else. Can you imagine to spend Christmas totally different than you are used to?
Our first Christmas in New Zealand was a bit shocking. Not just because we have been in the southern hemisphere and it was summer instead of winter, but also because we had a little accident which caused that we got lost. Yes, at one time we felt desperate, but at the end, it turned out to be a wonderful and enriching experience.
Read about 7 events which turned our Christmas totally upside down.
1. Isn’t It Too “Summery” For Christmas?
During leisure time we usually spent all days on the beautiful Ocean Beach or making some small trips to nearby areas. Summer started to be on the edge of the tropical temperatures and the idea that Christmas is coming was simply unimaginable for us.
Wearing just shorts, sweating in a hot car while driving to the beach…We only popped in a supermarket for something to drink and as we entered the supermarket, suddenly felt like on Christmas markets – decorated xmass trees everywhere, Christmas carols playing in the background…well that’s weird…it’s definitely too “summery” for this kind of occasion for us.
We decided to enjoy this first Christmas the most. I booked a hotel in Wellington city center – It supposed to be a really good hotel – our own studio for a couple of days.
Also, my hubby suggested to forget all our dining Christmas traditions, and he suggested to prepare our first Christmas turkey ever. Just for the record: As from Christian country, we traditionally eat fish on Christmas Eve – roast carp with potato salad, but me and Radito have never been big fans of this fish. We used to replace it with salmon, trout or sea bass instead.
On December 23rd we weaved to an apple orchard and headed to Wellington city – the capital of New Zealand. The feeling of the unboundedness and freedom entered us and we felt independent again.
2. How One Screw Screwed Up Everything!
The distance was about 300 km from Napier to Wellington, but as usual, we left too late.
It was about 1 am when we turned the wrong direction and got to Palmerston North which is still 144 km from Wellington. I asked my hubby if we can’t simply pull it over somewhere near the road cause it’s not safe to drive at night so long, but no, he wanted to drive straight to Wellington.
So we’ve been passing through the Palmerston North by mistake in the middle of night – quite nice city it is, except – this time it was like the city of ghosts, no one was outside.
Suddenly, Radito started to point outside the window. “Look, what an interesting nice church they’ve got here.” As I looked that way I heard a weird noise, scratching of tyre on the edge of the sidewalk.
“Honey take care when driving please…,” too late. We got a puncture and had to stop the car immediately on the parking next to the road.
Ok, it’s just the puncture nothing serious, we change the tyre and continue… that’s what we thought.
But we’ve been wrong because our car was Mazda. Radito started to unscrew the screws on the wheel until he got stuck with particular one which was impossible to move on with.
What’s going on? We had absolutely no idea what should we do. It was impossible to unscrew that thing however he tried. We walked to police station which was close to us. After explanation one of the officer went to check it with us. He said, “Oh yeah, there is safety catch, you should have a key for it. When you bought this car, did you not get the safety key with it?”
No, we didn’t, and that was the second time we cursed the old kiwi man who sold this car to us. He certainly should have mentioned to us so important thing. Officer told us to go to the hotel and leave the situation for the next day and left… What? Next day is Christmas for God’s sake!
We couldn’t wait, walked around the city, desperately trying to find anyone who could help us.
As we have been walking alone on the street it felt like from a strange movie. There was a beautiful small park on our left and a classical music has been playing from there even at night, but nobody was there. It was like in Burton’s fairy tale, dark and magic.
We got to talk to taxi driver parking on the corner of the street in front of pub. He totally surprised us, because was very keen to help us. He drove his cub to our car and tried to help us. He left his shift and went home to look for the key. Unfortunately, nobody could help us, if they didn’t have Mazda as well.
It was about 3 am, when we gave that fight up, stretched on the bed in our van and fell asleep. It wasn’t a good sleep indeed. The road showed up to be very busy so cars started to wake us up early in the morning.
My spine felt like broken because from the puncture our car has been askew. Sum up the lack of sleep and the fact that today is Christmas = panic!
3. Is It Real To Meet Kind Officer? Are We Not Dreaming?
As soon as we woke up, and got out of a car, several people stopped by, asking if we need some help. People of New Zealand are simply very careful, supportive and nice. Always keen to help.
Next few hours various people have been looking for a special key for the Mazda with us. I stayed at the car, while Radito went to look for that damned thing with one nice volunteer. They have driven to several garages but nobody had it. We started to feel really nervous and insecure. Finally, some very kind police officer drove my husband on the other end of city, where they got the key for free. They came back and policeman helped us to finally change the tyre.
But it still wasn’t over yet, cause we had to run to mechanics to repair that flat tyre. Garage has been very busy prior holidays so we had to left our car there for couple of hours.
Ok, so what are we gonna do now? Are we actually gonna get to that bloody Wellington someday?
4. How We Spent A Lovely Day And Met Great People By Mistake
We went to the city center of Palmerston North and had a wondrously great day. For a normal occasion, we would never get strayed to this city, there wasn’t any reason for it. And yet we’ve been there by mistake and spent a great day.
We decided to treat ourselves to some worthy Christmas gift after all we’ve been through.
We went to the Rock Shop (music shop) and bought a brand new acoustic guitar for us – black, bold and with the clear sound – just perfect!
We spent some time sunbathing in the lovely park with lots of flowers, ducks, enjoying vibrant atmosphere of nice people and classical music playing from the little square in the middle of this park.
I still couldn’t believe that it is Christmas time and I’m laying on the grass in my mini summer dress looking at a huge Christmas tree which stands among colorful rose garden.
5. Christmas Gift From A Stranger
After some more Christmas shopping, we went back to garage for our car. The mechanic guy did a very good work, he checked all tyres and repaired the flat one. When we asked how much it costs, he said, “That’s all right, go and enjoy your Christmas in New Zealand.” We got it for free!
One more time I have to mention, that all of these people helped us for free, they didn’t want anything for it. Some of them spent half of the day looking for the key, calling to shops or garages for us.
They just want us to have a better Christmas time here, that’s all.
Me and my husband has been thinking that human kindness was a fairy-tale thing, which doesn’t have a place in today’s world. But in this case, we’ve been wrong. Thank you, New Zealand!
It was December 24th, late afternoon when we left this nice town and on our way to the hotel, we stopped at the supermarket for last grocery shopping, hoping that turkeys are not sold out yet.
They weren’t (don’t underestimate Pak’n’Save haha), we got everything we needed according to Jamie’s Oliver recipe for Xmas Turkey + lot’s of treats and sweets.
There wasn’t enough time to prepare everything for the evening, so we decided that we are gonna celebrate Christmas Eve next day, on 25th…
6. Help Us! We Can’t Get Out Of Our Hotel Room!
When we finally got to the hotel Distinction in Wellington, it was astonishing! (including that lady on a front desk who was constantly saying “aaabsoluuuutely” very affected way, …we had to laugh).
Hotel room was amazing, plenty of space, so new and clean, great kitchen, spectacular view.
Wellington is a really nice city, one of our best places in NZ. But you must understand that during this stay, we didn’t see a lot of it. We simply couldn’t get out of our room!
Instead of planned two nights, we stayed 5 nights (and ruined our savings a bit) but it worth it.
In our super kitchen, we cooked our first turkey ever to perfection.
We’ve got plenty of our favorite New Zealand Pinot Noir, some cake, chocolates, tv and most important, we’ve got each other, and that was it.
Even room service gave it up with us during these days 🙂
We had a nice walk through the city for a while in the afternoon on Christmas day though.
Walking along the wide street in the city center was very weird because usually, it’s a busy place with crowds of people. But today – empty streets. We could barely see anyone here. Have you seen the movie “I am the legend”? That’s how it looked there…
7. Where Would You Spend Christmas At 30 Degrees?
Later on, we realized where have all these people of Wellington been that day – guess where – on the beach of course.
Oriental bay was overcrowded with people. Christmas trees stuck to white sand, children playing in the sea and parents wearing Santa’s hats.
We spent some time on the beach to confirm our merging to kiwi’s tradition and then went back to the hotel.
This first Christmas has been the best one in New Zealand by now, and these nostalgic memories always remind us that not all bad things which are happening have to be wrong necessary. There certainly must be the purpose behind.
What is your interesting or unusual Christmas story?
© Independent Couple 2015