Ultimate Guide to Kiwi Slang and Mannerisms

Nicole Guinn is a student at the University of Mary Washington and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Dunedin, New Zealand.

In a Kiwi accent: “New Zealand. Such a sweet as place bro. I’m so gutted that I have to head back to the states soon. The sheep might be blocking the run way again, eh? Cheers!”

Photo 1
Elephant Rocks – The most New Zealand of New Zealand photos

Ever since I touched ground in New Zealand, I have had a running list of weird/different things kiwis do. I greatly enjoy the way kiwis view their life. If one phrase could describe the kiwi lifestyle, it would be: “I’ll get there when I get there.” Americans may think this could lead to chaos but, in actuality, everyone is more relaxed and happy. Your 72in 1080p Full HD Plasma Flat Screen TV may not arrive the day you order it, but you’re still going to be equally as happy as when it shows up at your doorstep. I won’t be able to accurately convey a full kiwi linguistic experience, but here’s a list that will give you a general idea:

Common Slang

  • Sweet as – “That’s awesome”
  • Cheers! – “Goodbye” or “thank you”
  • Wee – “small”
  • Bro – “bro” is everyone’s name
  • Op shopping – “thrift shopping” (NZ has heaven sent thrift shops)
  • What are you making for tea? – “What are you making for dinner?”
  • Carpark – “parking space”
  • Eh? – used at the end of a sentence when denoting a question
  • That’s such sharn – “Such a bad story”
  • Hundreds and thousands – “sprinkles” (caused much confusion at ice cream shops)
  • You muppet! – “You silly goose!”
  • Rookie! – “Amateur!”
  • Dairy – “convenience store”
  • ‘Sup spoon – “Sup homie”
  • Yeah nah – “no”
  • Nah yeah – “yes”
  • So gutted – “so upset” (but not really)
  • Knuckle under – “Get down to business”, “buckle down”
  • Tosser – “waste of space”
  • Lollies – “candy”
  • Munted – “ruined” in reference to buildings or someone’s face
  • Aw mean, man – “So good, man”
  • Z (pronounced like zed) – the letter Z (caused confusion while typing in websites)
  • Good on ya (pronounced in mumbled fashion) – “Well done”
  • Stoked – “happy”
  • Muesli – “granola”
  • Very large vocabulary of cuss words
Photo 2
Christchurch- Who doesn’t want a sunset going down the gondola?


  • L & P soda – lemon soda that kiwis are obsessed with for some reason
  • Trust factor is much higher – hitchhiking is common
  • Tim tam slam – A tim tam is a delicious chocolate coated cookie with fudginess in the middle. The slam part is when opposite corners of the cookie are bitten and warm milk is sucked through the bitten part to create a melted piece of heaven
  • Sheep often cause traffic jams
  • Weetbix– equivalent to Wheaties, amazing how much milk they soak up
  • Canned spaghetti and cheese is placed on top of toast
  • Cadbury chocolate!!
  • Speights beer = Bud light
  • Massive amounts of ice cream are consumed
  • Velvet burger, Fergburger – best burger places in town, hours to wait in line
  • Eggs are non-refrigerated (blew my American mind)
  • The coffee is gross and the tea is wonderful
  • Ketchup is used as tomato sauce on pizza
  • Crazy fast kiwi drivers, no guard rails on scary roads
  • Campus watch likes to take selfies with students
  • Bookme.co.NZ- awesome deals on adventure sports
  • Trademe.co.nz– eBay 2.0
  • Milking a cow and shearing sheep are common skills
  • Tv commercials are hilarious or heart wrenching
Milford Sound – wicked as scenery
Milford Sound – wicked as scenery

New Zealand has a beautiful culture of spontaneous individuals whose company I have enjoyed greatly. I hope, one day, to gather all my things and make my study abroad experience become the rest of my life (currently have the immigration New Zealand website on the next window browser). My kiwi host along with other hosts have become my New Zealand family and I actually call some of them Mum and Dad. I love the kiwi lifestyle, the accommodating people, and the epic wilderness the entire country of New Zealand emanates.

Kawarau Bridge – myself, terrified, in mid-bungy jump
Kawarau Bridge – myself, terrified, in mid-bungy jump
Ben Lomond Track – ends with a gorgeous Queenstown view
Ben Lomond Track – ends with a gorgeous Queenstown view
Queenstown – another amazing view via Luging platform
Queenstown – another amazing view via Luging platform
Redwood Forest National Park – R.I.P. Ally Willen, your smile lit up this world
Redwood Forest National Park – R.I.P. Ally Willen, your smile lit up this world

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3 thoughts

  1. I studied abroad here in 2012 and this is so accurate! I have the a similar list that I kept in my journal, thanks for sharing this brightened my morning:)

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