A native of the northern coasts, the prolific red blooms of the pohutukawa and the closedly related rata that inhabits southern coastal regions are an iconic symbol of the Kiwi Christmas and summer holiday memories.
Early European settlers were quick to label the pohutukawa as the New Zealand Christmas tree, and most Kiwis share the memory of summers spent on the beach in the shade of the crimson canopy.
Pohutukawa and rata also hold a prominent place in Maori tradition.
The connection is especiallly vivid on The Coromandel peninsula - a favourite North Island holiday destination - where the arrival of the vibrant pohutukawa blooms is celebrated with an annual festival.
Pohutukawa Festival 2011
The Pohutukawa Festival, which runs for two weeks over the last week of November and the first week of December, is the real beginning of summer on The Coromandel.
With the trees as an ever present backdrop, the celebration covers a wide range of events reflecting the region’s stunning beaches, seafood and artistic community and including art exhibitions, open gardens, concerts, food and wine.
Throughout the festival, Whitianga Glass Bottom Boat Cruises will run Crimson Cruises in Mercury Bay - the best place to view the flowering pohutukawa from the water, and including marine wildlife, and some of the stunning caves and coastal scenery that starred in the Narnia movies.
Money raised during the festival goes to charities including pohutukawa re-planting in the area.
Also in New Zealand today, City.Mobi is celebrating the success of its new guide to Christchurch.
City.Mobi offers the most comprehensive mobile travel guides available, with over 800 cities in 200 countries listed. Each is developed by the City.Mobi team to combine into a single global travel directory.
Christchurch.city.mobi is the latest in this illustrious line up, offering click to call functionality – which means no scribbling down telephone numbers.
Most entries are also linked to websites where users can quickly access more detailed information if needed.
Other key features include information on accommodation, restaurants, attractions, entertainment, nightlife, shopping, and transport.
City.Mobi guides include user reviews and traveller utilities such as a translation guide, currency converter, news and local weather guide.