Warm Xmas with warm people
She moved to New Zealand 14 years ago and a summer Christmas still seems odd.
In fact, Queenstown’s Fiona Gray had heat stroke as a Christmas present last year while her family in Manchester, England, were battling with cold.
The 28 year-old chef recalls growing up on a farm ’’in the middle of nowhere’’ and riding a sledge to primary school in December.
There was so much snow, it was impossible for her mum to start up the car.
A few years later Gray and her younger brother had to go through a blizzard to catch a bus to school from the nearest village.
December in Queenstown consists of tanning on the beach, camping and mountain biking.
No powder on Christmas is very different, Gray says.
‘‘I’ll never ever get used to that, I don’t think. It doesn’t feel right.’’
As well as warm Christmases, Queenstown has a warm culture.
‘‘I feel like because a lot of people don’t have family here you kind of make your own family and get really close with the friends that you do have, which is so nice.’’
As friends become family they celebrate big occasions together.
‘‘We all are kind of in the same boat so we all just spend the day together, play a few games, open a few presents and chill out in the sun.’’
Gray says she is missing her family in England but not England itself.
‘‘When we moved, mum said she was wanting to get a better lifestyle for us, and I have no doubt that she made the right decision by bringing us over here,’’ she said.
Rainy day Queenstown reminds her of Manchester, but more beautiful.
‘‘I think sometimes you take it for granted after you’ve been here a long time, but then when you take a moment and you look around, like ‘...yeah’.’’
Gray’s mother and brother live in Dunedin, where she went to high school and university.
She moved to Queenstown eight years ago and became a chef for Frenz Lunch Bar, and is now working at Ivy and Lola’s Kitchen.
‘‘It has really good food and a really good team and I’m always learning heaps. It’s just nice to be in the environment where you’re looking forward to going to work.’’