Christmas in a Manger at Nelson, New Zealand

The view of Nelson from Harris Hill.

The view of Nelson from Harris Hill (click to enlarge).

Sarah writes: We just wrapped up our most unusual and special Christmas ever, which we celebrated at a rental cottage in Nelson, New Zealand. Ending the year here and being on this journey together is the ultimate “gift that keeps on giving.” Since my 8-year-old son Kyle spent part of his homeschooling week writing about this place, and Morgan took terrific photos, I decided to hand this blog post over to them. I hope you enjoy Kyle’s very own blog post and movie!

Mom and me homeschooling on our deck.

Mom and me homeschooling on our deck.

Right now I’m at Harris Hill. It is in Nelson, N.Z., which is at the top part of the South Island. It is at a farm with animals like a hairy pig, goats, sheep, calves/cows/bulls, dogs, ponies, horses, llamas and chickens. It has a view of the blue bay, and since we’re near the ocean, it’s windy! The wind makes the grass look like waves.

When we’re inside we hear the sheep and listen to the birds cheep. We’re staying in a cozy cabin. The best part of it is we get our own rooms! We’ve had to share our rooms the last four months.

The farm is like a petting zoo to me. I love the animals. The one I love the most is the hairy pig. We call him Hairy Porker. We feed him food like fruit, vegetables and leftover meals.

Hairy Porker begging for food.

Hairy Porker begging for food.

Me with the pesky goats.

Me with the pesky goats.

We're at a giant hill overlooking the sea.

We're at a giant hill overlooking the sea.

The weird thing is, we have fruit like strawberries and cherries in December because we’re near the summer solstice. Christmas is weird because it’s cold where we usually live and warm in New Zealand. It’s also different because we made decorations, and I made a popcorn string for the tree. My grandparents also sent me a lot of yarn to make decorations with.

We decorated a small pine tree that is still growing.

We decorated a small pine tree that is still growing.

Today we had Christmas with our small pine tree. We woke up with our shoes as stockings and found candy in them. (That’s what they do in Holland, and Santa puts candy in there. We didn’t have stockings so we put our shoes by the front door.) I woke up my family to see the presents. My favorite was my IPod Touch! I also got three books that I’m excited to read, and I got two decks of cards from my grandparents. They also gave me instructions on how to play poker because they think it’s time for me to learn how. Then Colly opened her box. It was a computer (laptop)! It was a special Christmas for our family because we’ve never had a Christmas like this.

My dad made this card for our family and friends.

My dad made this card for our family and friends.

Harris Hill makes me feel like I’m at home. It will feel great to end the year here.

Here is my video of Harris Hill. YouTube Preview Image

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  1. Pingback: New Adventures In New Zealand on January 7, 2010


  1. Christine, December 25, 2009:

    Great video Kyle! I loved it!
    It was great to hear your voice. I hope you make more along your journey. I also sent you an email.
    Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.



  2. Aunt Martha, December 26, 2009:

    Great post, Kyle (and Colly, the helper)! Sounds like your Christmas was very special. I loved your video but I am wondering about a couple of things. Do the sheep seem frightened, or do you think they are used to all this shearing stuff? Also, is it stinky and sheep doo-dooie in that barn? I was wondering what you were getting yourself into when you slid down that shoot!

    I love you guys and look forward to the time the cousins can be together again on a holiday!

    :) Martha

  3. David W. Lavender, December 26, 2009:


    Great post! While I love your video (the banjo music reminds me of my old band), I am impressed that your writing is every bit as visual–you really allow me to ‘see’ things just through your words (and this is a real gift). I especially liked the image of the wind making waves on the grass (I remember seeing this same phenomenon when we lived in Hawaii and the trades would blow through the pasture lands flanking the Kohalas). It is odd (as you point out) to think that your weather is so warm and sunny, especially since it’s FREEZING here in Colorado (but fortunately, our new stove is keeping our cabin warm and cozy).

    Have a great day and say ‘hi’ to all those animals for me!

    –Uncle Tut

  4. Kate Campbell, December 26, 2009:

    That was great, Kyle! Looks like a very special Christmas, indeed!

  5. Ken Taylor, January 23, 2010:

    Hi Kyle,
    What a great year for you! It was really nice to get your cards in the mail; to read about “The Hilton” Hotel you stayed in and to read your blog. You are a good writer! New Zealand is sure a beautiful and interesting place, isn’t it? I’ve always wanted to go there, and to visit the other places you’ve visited too! Someday I hope to get the chance to see some of the sights you see–until then, I’ll see them through your eyes! That reminds me of the book I think I read to you and the class last year about the teacher named Miss Arizona, who taught class after class of kids about far-off places, but never got to see them except through the eyes of her former students. So, thanks for sharing some of your experiences!
    We’re about halfway through the year in Emeryville, and looking forward to returning to our new school in Piedmont, which is really starting to take shape. It’s been raining cats and dogs for the last week, and even hailed one day, so we’re all looking forward to some sunny, warm days in the spring and summer. Last summer, I hiked with some Troop 15 boys (including Jack and Henry) in King’s Canyon National Park. It was a 52 mile hike over 6 days. We hope to do another hike this summer somewhere else in the Sierras. When are you getting back?
    I hope you’re having a great time, Kyle. I miss seeing your smiling face every day, and look forward to seeing you again. Now that I have finally seen your website, I’ll follow your travels more closely! Henry says “Hi!”
    Mr. T

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