We are Serious About our Driving
Unlike Beijing where the road is just one open highway and swerving between vehicles and ignoring any road markings is normal, we actually stick to being inside those little white dots on the road and ensure that we get on our horn and wave the middle finger salute to anyone who doesn’t obey. But then again Aucklanders still suck at driving so either way just make sure your will is up to date.
Smoking is Becoming Taboo
Smoking was a big thing pre mid 2000’s with most of my childhood memories being my clothes stinking of cigarette smoke after spending a family dinner at the local RSA, even when none of my family members smoked. These days you can’t smoke out the front of a restaurant without getting dirty looks from the general public. You can’t smoke ANYWHERE indoors, and yes this includes clubs as well, you’ll be lucky to find an outside dining area of a cafe with ash trays without having to ask the staff for one. Quite a few public places are beginning to turn smoke free as well, so just check any local signs if there are rules on smoking. And for the love of god put your butt in the bin! Don’t ditch it in our rivers please.
Binge Drinking is a Sport
Unlike most European adults who can sit down at the dinner table and stop at one glass of wine every night, and maybe stretch to two or three on the weekends. New Zealand has a drinking culture based on the “go hard or go home” factor; where if you bring a box of 24 Lion Reds to a BBQ you are expected to finish it or your New Zealand heritage will be questioned, or as many females you question yourself whether one bottle of wine will do you for the night; so you partner your Sauvignon Blanc up with a 4 pack of Park Lanes’ gin and tonics just to be safe. Even when it's not unusual to blame ourselves the next morning for our blanks spaces throughout the night and question our own moral stance, it all ends up being a circle of terror and the binging starting again the following weekend.
Flip flops are called Jandals and bare feet are completely normal form of footwear to wear to the supermarket or mall
We may have one of the worst binge drinking cultures known to man (looking at you Australia), but we also pride ourselves in our easy access to clean, fresh water. By law every pub and bar has to give punters easy and FREE access to readily available water, so when you head for a night out you should always be able to spot a jug of fresh H2O sitting on the counter ready to drink. No need to ask for a bottle from behind the counter, even if we aren’t going to charge you $60 FOR 6 BOTTLES OF WATER LIKE PRAGUE DOES.
We Pay at Tills, Not Tables
We are so different to Europe but in the smallest ways possible; At 99% of restaurants in New Zealand you pay the bill at the counter, which requires you to get out of your seat and walk your way up to the hard working wait staff, none of this *clicking* mid air trying to catch the waitress’ attention. We also don’t leave tips; luckily most of our staff in the hospitality industry earn an average wage from their employers so they don’t have to rely on the generosity of customers (but a few $$s’ given to your waitress won’t go unnoticed either).
We Like Our salads
It wasn’t until I began travelling Europe for an extended period of time when I began asking at restaurants “Wheres the salad?!” I thought New Zealand was a big fan of meat but I realised that we are actually more salad fanatics with a classic kiwi bbq consisting of at least 3 of the following, but not restricted to: Coleslaw, green/bean/potato/rocket salad. It's not a kiwi BBQ without a few snags on the grill and a couple of bowls of your mothers' or midis' fresh salads.
Its Normal to Turn up Unannounced
I know that in quite a few cultures it’s extremely rude to turn up to someones house without 2-3 days written approval, even if you have been best of friends since before childbirth. In New Zealand I reckon it is one of the highest honours among friendships, to have a love so tight with someone you feel you can walk into their house without their prior knowledge or approval and be welcomed in with a cup of tea and a biscuit. Which also brings me to #2 of my biggest childhood memories; Mum or Dad quietly yelling down the house that someone had arrived which was then followed with a scuffle of Mum shoving everything we own into the nearest cupboard and seemingly wiping everything off the bench into the nearest bin to give the illusion that everyone in our house had their shit together.
Tomato Sauce is a Delicacy
Yea that’s an everyday condiment that goes with practically anything. -But that doesn't make it okay to drown Eggs Benedict in the blood of slain tomatoes.
As an English speaking New Zealander I ignorantly thought that our slang wasn’t as foreign to the rest of the world as it actually is, but after travelling Europe for 4 months I quickly learned that most people had no idea what the hell I was saying to them most of the time.
The first mistake I made when I had entered Europe was of course using Kiwi slang, I had only been in Germany for 2 hours and I ordered Subway from the airport; The Subway worker hands me my sandwich and ‘Kiwi as’ I say “Thanks, See you later!” to which he replies extremely confused and says “See you later? Why will I see you later..?”. I laugh and try explaining to him that it’s just a figure of speech and he interrupts me “Oh, But I will see you later if you want to?” I quickly yell BYEEE and run out the door to catch my bus. Mortified. Not only did I learn to speak proper English from here on in, but that Germans are very quite literal.
I also met another German 2 months later who said he was in Australia and a stranger approached him saying “How’s it going mate?”, this German ended up extremely confused and said “Mate? Who are you? I’m not your mate?” He laughed about it when he was telling me the story but obviously at the time he was not.
Here’s a quick run down of what Kiwi slang to look out for and their meanings.
"Bro!" Hey I'm over here!
"Bro” What are you doing!?
“Bro...” That’s not cool
“Bro” Are you even listening to me?
“Bro..!” I can’t believe you slept with my missus
So now with this abundant, merely useless knowledge I hope your future visit to New Zealand will be easy breezy and sweet as. Any troubles, please hesitate to contact me as I'm not an offical spokesperson for New Zealand Tourism.