Why is it called the NZ Christmas tree? Well, it blooms in summer, which in the southern hemisphere is Nov-Feb. Can you imaging sitting on the beach at christmas, oops we do that here as well.
Sort of a slow growing evergreen tree and will not get very large around here, maybe 25 feet and tends to be on the narrow side, but also forms a wide spreading habit if it is grown as a multi-stemmed specimen. The specimen in SF arboretum is magnificent and significantly larger than anything here or even in Marina (which has lots of very nice ones).
Misidentification: Maybe one of the bottlebrushes (Callistemon). Metrosideros has very short clusters of flowers and a darker green leaf that is wider than bottlebrush leaves.
Santa Cruz, Mission Plaza has one that is narrow. Its close to the Church.
7th Ave from Eaton to the beach, One of the best plantings around. Makes a great street tree.
Seascape Resort ... Suite 418 showing nice aerial roots.