Welcome to New Zealand






New Zealand Slang


New Zealand Slang

New Zealand Slang

Upon visiting New Zealand for the first time, you will discover a lovely country, spectacular scenery and well-disposed people. The Maori will give you a glimpse of their culture and try not to laugh too hard when you mispronounce some of the place names. Every place you visit you will be dealt with in a friendly and polite manner. But a weird thing happens when you go over to the pub for a drink with the locals. Suddenly they start using strange words, almost like a code of sorts. As you enter a shop, hotel, or pub, you will not be greeted with the usual "hello". Instead, they will great you with "Kia Ora" (Maori for “hello”) or "Gidday" (“Good day”). Kia Ora is normally followed by “Tena koutou tamariki ma” which simply means “how are you?”.


But they do not expect visitors to answer in the same language. “Gidday” is merely cow ‘cockie' language. Several of Kiwi slang is derived from either the Maori language or agricultural groups.


You will encounter several locals talk about their cows as “girls”, their galoshes or Wellington boots as “gummies, and their wives as “better-half”, “missus”, or “other half”.


They refer to acquaintances (and even strangers) as “cobber”, “mate”, “bro”, and “cuz”. These are all good terms and merely signify that you are in good standing with them. “Ehu” means “friend” and “jug” or “handle” are used when ordering beer from a pub.


It is good advice to be cautious in following directions from these locals.

For instance, if you inquire about someone’s address, you will probably be told, ‘just down the road’, ‘just around the corner’, ‘just over the hill’ or even ‘next door’.

This is where the expression ‘somewhere near Taupo’ originated. Kiwis think that to anyone who hails from a big continent such as Australia or America, anyplace in New Zealand, is always near Taupo.


Just bear in mind that a country mile is the same as the length of a piece of string, and you will not get off track. Shopping is very easy. New Zealand has lots of supermarkets and a multitude of specialty stores.

But if you are buying groceries for Kiwi friends, take note: Potatoes are 'Spuds', and ‘Vogels’ is a kind of bread.


You will not find tua tua, toheroa, or kina at the local stores since they are a kind of shell fish which you can just pick off the beach.

Plus if your local friends tell you to go get some scallops or mussels for the 'barbie’ (barbecue), they mean a walk over the rocks, not a visit to the store. Another thing regarding the barbie, do not be scandalized if the cooking is done in a hole dug up in the ground. This style of cooking is called the hangi, a traditional Maori custom which is a socially acceptable way of cooking meals. If you are looking for specifically typical kiwi food, try out the Vogels, vegemite, hokey pokey ice-cream, or Paeroa and Lemon.



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