Merry Christmas! We’ve enjoyed our first Summer Christmas as best we can here. We sure miss family and friends this time of year, although I do not miss the cold weather. We have made great new friends here, and are enjoying spending the holidays with them.
To begin, we need to introduce you to our first Christmas tree. Kiwis only have one type of tree here (pine tree?) for Christmas, and they really don’t do much to prune and shape them. Needless to say, we got this bad boy into our home and found it had a bit of a lean and a couple of patches that needed to be filled.
But our Christmas spirit could not be squelched. We tied the trunk to a couple of bamboo rods to straighten things out and Morgan nailed some branches we cut off into the trunk to fill in the gaps. It began to look like a decent Christmas tree after all.
Unfortunately, Evan quickly realized he was allergic to the tree. Watery eyes, trouble breathing, and sneezing meant our tree was not going to stick around long. We counted our losses (the tree only cost $15) and bought a fake Christmas tree. No nailing or allergy medicine required!
Since we were in a giving mood, we put our tree out in the front drive with a note on it…The tree was gone by the time we got home from work.
The big news, however, is that we have some visitors for Christmas! Jeremy and Laura McBryar have made the flight to Christchurch and are seeing the sites. We’ve certainly kept them busy and given them little time to recover from jet lag.
On our first day we took them to the city center of Christchurch to see the earthquake devastation and the restart mall. We also went kayaking on the Avon river which flows right through Hagley Park. Then we drove to the beach and hiked a brand new trail for us, Godley Head.
It is a beautiful coastal walk that goes up and down hills above the water crashing into the cliffs. The trail just reopened after being closed for earthquake repairs. We then went home and ate a traditional Kiwi meal of Fish and Chips. I love that meal…
On Sunday (the 23rd) we went to church, did a bit of shopping at the mall, hiked the port hills, and then went to Christmas dinner at our friend Fiona’s house. Fiona was Morgan’s host mum while she studied teaching 4.5 years ago. It was a grand feast, complete with Christmas crackers and a massive ham, glazed by Evan. I have no experience glazing hams, but I watched a video on youtube. It turned out pretty good I think.
Christmas Eve was AMAZING. We returned to Mt. Sunday, the filming location of Edoras in Lord of the Rings. Morgan and I went once 4 years ago and had a blast. We paid a lot of $$$ to go on a tour of the place, and it was totally worth it. But now they’ve built a trail so if you’re willing to make the drive, you can climb the mountain for free.
It was a great walk, we crossed some gorgeous rivers, and despite the summer weather many mountains still had snow on them. It was certainly not your typical Christmas Eve, but we loved every minute of it (except the 20km of gravel road driving, which took an hour to accomplish in our Honda Fit).
Naturally, we had a picnic on top of the mountain. Since we were standing on royal ground, we had a royal feast: Peanut butter and honey sandwiches.
It was an epic day, but we returned in time for a Christmas Carols by Candlelight show in downtown Christchurch. Even though it is summer here, it was a chilly evening so we were wrapped up in coats and wishing we had a blanket to keep us warm. We ran into Sadia (Fiona’s daughter) and her boyfriend Sam and snapped a picture under the giant Christmas tree.
Tomorrow is Christmas day for us! Being 18 hours ahead has its advantages after all I suppose. We miss all of you very much, and hope you have a very Merry Christmas. On the 26th we’ll be taking off for a massive road trip around the South Island. Woohoo!