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
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
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
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