Crunch time for Santa’s reindeer

Santa will be busier than ever delivering presents to New Zealand children on Christmas Eve this year, according to the 2018 Census, Stats NZ said today.

There were 617,556 children aged under 10 years in the 2018 Census, an increase of 11 percent since the 2001 Census.

To ensure he makes it to every house around the world before Christmas morning, Santa’s reindeer need to pull his sleigh at an average speed of approximately 2,200 kilometres per second, which is less than 1 percent of the speed of light, according to an article in Forbes. This means Santa spends around 0.0003 seconds per household delivering presents.

In order to pull the sleigh at such a fast pace, Santa’s reindeer need plenty of food for energy. If every household in New Zealand put out one carrot along with Santa’s snack, Santa’s reindeer would have more than 26 tonnes of carrots to eat. All up, New Zealanders would spend more than $420,000 feeding Santa’s reindeer for just one night.

Assuming all children were good during the year, it would take Santa around 3 minutes to deliver his presents in New Zealand.

Where is Santa going to spend the majority of his time as he delivers presents for all the children in New Zealand? The Gisborne region had the highest proportion (16 percent) of children aged under 10 years, while the Otago region had the lowest proportion (11 percent). Although the Auckland region has the highest number of children under 10 years old, that number equates to only 13.5 percent of Auckland’s usually resident population.

Region Proportion children aged under 10 years Number of children under 10 years
Northland 13.98 25041
Auckland 13.5 212190
Waikato 14.15 64836
Bay of Plenty 13.77 42468
Gisborne 15.76 7488
Hawke’s Bay 13.97 23247
Taranaki 14.06 16527
Manawatu-Wanganui 13.36 31914
Wellington 12.36 62631
Tasman 11.1 5814
Nelson 11.67 5940
Marlborough 11.71 5544
West Coast 11.86 3744
Canterbury 12.09 72522
Otago 10.95 24663
Southland 13.24 12903

Festive facts

  • New Zealand is one of the first countries to be visited by Santa, along with some of our Pacific neighbours. Fittingly, Kiritimati (Christmas) Island in Kiribati is only 1 hour ahead of us and would be visited en route to New Zealand.
  • 21,325 people arrived in New Zealand on Christmas Eve 2018. Of those, 41 arrived from Santa’s homeland of Finland.
  • $84 million worth of toys were imported to New Zealand between October 2018 and December 2018.
  • Santa’s human helpers are busy in the lead-up to Christmas, too. There were 10,000 extra retail jobs in December 2018 (compared with September 2018).
  • An estimated 37 million potential Christmas trees (pine trees) were harvested in New Zealand in 2018. They were harvested from 62,000 hectares of pine forest and equate to approximately 22 Christmas trees per household. The majority of harvested pine trees, however, are used within industries such as construction, furniture, and paper production.
  • Santa uses a company sleigh to deliver all his presents. Like 11.2 percent of employed adults in New Zealand, Santa uses a company vehicle to get to work.

We wish everyone a happy and safe holiday season.

About the 2018 Census dataset

We combined data from the census forms with administrative data to create the 2018 Census dataset, which meets Stats NZ’s quality criteria for population structure information.

We added real data about real people to the dataset where we were confident the people should be counted but hadn’t completed a census form. We also used data from the 2013 Census and administrative sources and statistical imputation methods to fill in some missing characteristics of people and dwellings.

An independent panel of experts has assessed the quality of the 2018 Census dataset. In its Initial report of the 2018 External Data Quality Panel, the panel endorsed the overall methods Stats NZ used for the 2018 Census and assessed the quality of some of the key variables. The panel’s second report 2018 Census External Data Quality Panel: Assessment of variables provides their quality ratings for an additional 30 variables.

Definitions and metadata

2018 Census – DataInfo+ provides information about methods, and related metadata.

2018 Census information by variable and quality – DataInfo+ provides information about the variables and their quality.

Data quality ratings for 2018 Census variables provides information on data quality ratings.

/Stats NZ Public Release. View in full here.