Christmas in Tauranga (December 20 - January 3, 2002)



New Zealand
North Island
South Island
Christmas and New Year's


We spent a very enjoyable Christmas and New Year's in Tauranga with Rae and Murray Jamieson and their two children, Thomas and Emma. The Jamieson's were great company.

There are both differences and similarities to Christmas in Canada. 

all the Jamo's

Santa 2001

Santa sacks

christmas morning 2001

Like Canada, Christmas is very much a family event - we met 23 Jamieson's (3 generations) on Christmas morning for brunch. Then we met one of Rae's sisters and her family for supper (Rae's parents were visiting her other sister in Australia). As you can see, shorts and T-shirts were de rigeur on this warm Christmas day. 

Unlike Canada, photos with Santa are not a big item. We found Santa tucked away in the furniture section of a department store. If you look carefully on the right side, you'll even see the guarantee tag still on the new sofa.  Mark told Santa that he wanted a jet boat for Christmas. What's a jet boat? Think of a very small but fast boat with a 400HP V8 that shoots a jet of water out a nozzle instead of using a propeller for propulsion. The jet drive was actually invented by a Kiwi, and jet boats are fairly common here - however Santa was caught a little off guard by the request. 

Kiwis do not leave milk and cookies for Santa. Instead, they leave beer and cookies. I'm sure Santa appreciates it, but I think Canadians should complain - with the date line, New Zealand is among Santa's first stops. What if all the beer in New Zealand puts Santa to sleep before reaching Canada at the end of his long day!?

This year, Mark made a big deal about leaving a glass of water for Santa. That seemed a little odd at the time... but the next morning, Mark got a letter from a very upset Santa. Mark had put rock salt into the water and Santa did not like it one bit. (Although Murray who tasted it, thought it was funny). In his anger, Santa took back the jet boat that Mark was to receive under the tree. 

Have a look at these "Santa Sacks". No little stockings for Emma and Thomas - these sacks are the size of pillow cases! The sacks are commonplace for kids in Australia and New Zealand. 

The kids actually did well on Christmas. They slept in until 6AM. 

Murray and Mark fishing

Dolphins near Tauranga


We were as active as we could be given the weather. Murray and I took all the kids rock climbing at a local indoor climbing wall. Murray, Mark, Sarah and I played our worst game of golf ever - everyone scored over 105. Thomas, Heather, Sarah and I went boogie boarding at "The Mount" (Mt Manganui) on one afternoon while the rest of the gang went fishing. Actually, Murray brought Mark fishing many times both in their boat and from the shore. They caught herring, sting rays (but landed none), red snapper, trevally, gurnid, and some other local fish whose names escape me. Unfortunately I think Mark is addicted to fishing. The more he fished, the more he wanted to fish! Christmas day was probably the only day he did not bug Murray to take him fishing. Sorry Murray!

Heather, Emma and I swam with the dolphins. The boat we were on was a bit of a 'rust bucket' but the experience was first class - much better than our experience at Akaroa. The first pod of 20 common dolphins had a newborn so we were not allowed to swim with them but we had a closeup look from the boat. The second pod of about 100 common dolphins were spectacular. At one point, I could see 8 dolphins through my mask - all within about 3 metres of where I was. One swam very close to me and turned on its side so it could peer at me with its eye. It was as curious about me as I was about it. I hope the pictures turn out on my disposable underwater camera. 

We also went to Waimarino, a water park on the river not too far from their house. This day's entertainment was a very kind Christmas present to our family from Rae and Murray, and Murray's parents June and Bill. 

We visited "Uncle Allen's" dairy farm at milking time, and also saw Monsters Inc in the theatre. We have not seen Lord of the Rings yet although it is very much in the Press here in New Zealand - it is both directed by a Kiwi and was filmed here.

It was hard to believe that the holiday period was over when we sadly packed our car on January 3. Thank you Murray, Rae, Emma and Thomas for two wonderful weeks of including us with your family at Christmas and New Year's.  We look forward to meeting up with you again sometime soon.

Off to Melbourne, Australia