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Santa has not cancelled his trip to the Upper Clutha this month – instead he is coming by Zoom.

He has also sent at least 70 elves, 25 teddies, Mrs Claus and a colony of inebriated rabbits as his advance party.

Santa’s Christmas team set up the North Pole inside the Lake Hawea Community Centre last week.

Elizabeth Horrell, Barbara Mackenzie and several helpers worked for several days to set up the southern version of the North Pole.

The workers have created a magical forest, a village green, reindeer stables, and a gingerbread house, prepared Santa’s bedroom and provisioned Mrs Claus’s kitchen.

There are teddies working in a sewing room, elves in the wrapping room, elves in the workshop, rabbits on strike (“they’ve been drinking”), and heaps of toys in the toy room.

Mrs Horrell estimated more than 200 hours of work had gone into setting everything up.

Mrs Mackenzie, a keen craftswoman, made all the elves and teddies.

“I love it. That’s why I do it,” Mrs Mackenzie said.

The Christmas team also included Geoff and Maureen Kernick, who donated trees, and Brian McCaughan, who built the village green skyline and Santa’s throne.

Mrs Horrell said there were “too many hiccups” for Santa to attend in person, so a Zoom call had been arranged instead.

The women have been making various versions of the North Pole for about eight years.

This is the third year they have set up North Pole at the community centre.

Previously, they created the Christmas space in Mrs Horrell’s home and opened it to garden tour visitors.

All the contents have been made, purchased or donated to Mrs Horrell and Mrs Mackenzie over the years.

Hawea locals Dave Wardell and Liz Munn loaned a Christmas train set this year.

  • Opening hours:

Weekdays: 2pm-5pm.

Saturday and Sunday: 10am-noon; 1pm-4pm.

Closes: December 12.

Open on request to preschools and service groups.

Visitors need Covid-19 vaccine passports.