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A Traveler’s Guide to New Zealand Slang

Posted on: June 7th, 2018 by About Australia Staff No Comments

Group of people on a canoe with Maori leader in New Zealand

The chilly bin is chocka, you’ve got your jandals on and you’re ready to take a tiki tour through the wop-wops for a bit of tramping with your mates.

Or, you would be if you had any idea what those words even mean!

If you’re a native English speaker, traveling to English speaking New Zealand is super easy, but that doesn’t mean you won’t hit a few language barriers when you’re chatting it up with the locals.

New Zealanders have enough local slang and colloquialisms that you could easily find yourself lost in translation. Luckily, we’ve put together a quick guide to keep your conversation on track and have you talking like a Kiwi in no time.

Common New Zealand Slang

Kiwi – An endearing nickname New Zealanders have given themselves based on the flightless bird of the same name. All New Zealanders love the Kiwi – it’s even featured on the New Zealand one dollar coin.

Sweet as – When something is a step above good, it’s sweet as. Use sweet as any time you would use the word awesome back home and you’ll be good as gold (another Kiwi-ism!).

Mate – Just like their Aussie cousins, New Zealanders refer to their friends as their mates.

Chocka – When something is full, it’s chocka, whether you’re talking about a closet full of clothes, a bin full of rubbish or a stomach that’s just eaten too much Pavlova. In the U.S. we would say chock full, but we don’t use it quite as often as the Kiwis do.

JandalsIt seems like every nation has their own interpretation of this thin-soled, open-toed beach wear. Whether you call them sandals, flip-flops or thongs. They pretty much all mean the same thing, but in New Zealand, they’re jandals, a truncation of “Japanese sandals”. “I’m putting on my jandals and heading to the beach!”

People running toward the beach at Cathedral Cove in the Coromandel credit Adam Bryce

The Wop-wops – The wop-wops refer to a rural area in the middle of nowhere. Often shortened to simply, the wops. You might refer to them as the boonies or the sticks. Generally, any place that’s an hour or more from civilization is in the wops.

Keen – This work is used when you’re excited about something. “Want to head to the beach?” “Keen!”

Dairy – This one might be one of the more confusing Kiwi terms if you’re not familiar with it. A dairy is not just a place where cows are milked and cheese made! A dairy is most generally a convenience store or corner store where one would buy eggs, milk, newspapers, general goods and more. “I’ll pop by the dairy and pick us up a few things on the way home.”

Tomato sauce – What you probably call ketchup is simply tomato sauce in New Zealand. Chips (that’s fries to you – try and keep up, now!) are a staple food among Kiwis so don’t be surprised if a restaurant asks if you’d like tomato sauce with your chips.

Chippie – Chippies on the other hand, are potato chips.

Tramping -Going for a hike, walking through rugged terrain, trekking through the mountains. Whatever your outdoor pleasure, it’s all called tramping in New Zealand. Since New Zealand is such an amazing outdoor paradise, with tons of Great Walks, you’ll probably hear this one a lot.

Dag – Kiwi’s use this term when something or someone is funny or outrageous. You’ll know you’re joke landed if someone comments, “You are such a dag!”

Chilly Bin -Exactly as it sounds, a bin that’s cold inside, perfect for keeping things chilly! In the U.S. we call them coolers, a name that’s a bit less descriptive and not nearly as fun to say.

Shout – Someone shouts when they treat someone to a meal or drinks. “It’s nice to meet you. Let me shout you a drink.”

Choice – If you’re from the west coast, you might be familiar with this one. When something is excellent or above average, it’s choice.”That bike is choice!”. A very versatile Kiwi word, choice can be used any time you want to express positive feelings about something.

Group of people dining outside in Queenstown credit Julian Apse

No worries – If you thank someone, they’ll likely respond with no worries.

Tiki Tour – To go on a tiki tour is to take the scenic route to your destination, or simply to go on a scenic tour to see the sights with no particular destination in mind. The word itself is no doubt Maori influenced, with tiki referring to a Polynesian wood-carving.

Eh – Just like our cousins to the north, Kiwis like to add eh to the end of sentences. “It’s a great day, eh?” It normally sounds more like, aye.

Knackered – When you’re more than simply tired, or you’re completely wiped out and exhausted, you’re knackered. “I pulled an all-nighter last night, I’m completely knackered today!”

Loo – The toilet or restroom. No doubt a holdover from British influence, what we would call the “bathroom” New Zealanders call the loo. There’s not a hold lot of solid evidence out there about where the British even got the term loo, so don’t try and make too much sense of it, but you’ll definitely want to know it! Besides, how many of our bathrooms actually have baths in them anyway?

Yeah nah – New Zealanders say yeah nah as a slightly hesitant way of technically, sort of saying no. But they also use it to technically, sort of, kind of say yes. Sometimes they even use it to say maybe! Yeah nah is an indecisive word that’s made it’s way in to the Kiwi lexicon as a way to agree or disagree in the most agreeable way possible. Or maybe that you understand what someone’s saying, but don’t personally agree. Use this one anywhere and often!

Footy – Rugby, New Zealand’s national sport. Kiwi’s are huge fans of rugby. New Zealand culture is reflected in the sport as the national team, the All-Blacks, perform a haka (a native Maori war cry) before every game to intimidate their opponents. Not to be confused with “soccer” which is no where near the national obsession that footy is!

B.Y.O – This is a license given to restaurants which allow customers to bring in their own alcoholic beverage. Very useful to know if you are the type to enjoy libations on vacation.

Ta – This simply means thanks. “Here’s your baggage.” “Ta.” 

Biscuit – Just like in the UK, a biscuit in New Zealand is a cookie. So if you’re looking for something sweet, head to the biscuit section of your closest dairy.

Togs- This is a swim suit. “I’m heading to the beach.” “Wait for me, I got to get my togs on!”

Bach – Being on vacation you may hear this word from time to time. It means a holiday home.

Te Reo Māori

Couple with Maori woman in Waitangi, Northland, New Zealand credit Sara Orme

While the Kiwi language has been heavy influenced by the Brits, you’ll also find that Te Reo Māori (the Māori language) is very much a part of the New Zealand vernacular. Here are a few Māori sayings you might find useful on your New Zealand vacation!

Kia Ora (key-or-ah) – This is an informal hello. It’s very versatile and used to address people from all walks of life. It could mean hello, good morning/afternoon/ evening, thanks and show agreement.

Haere Mai (hi-ra-mi) – You’ll see these words on signs as you enter new cities and buildings. It means welcome.

Tēnā Koutou (ten-a-ko-toe) – This common saying means, hello everybody. Say it when you are greeting more than one person.

Haere Ra (Hi-ra-raw) –   A goodbye of sorts, said to the person who is leaving. If you are leaving, you would say e noho ra  as a farewell.

Now that you have a few basic Kiwi phrases, you’re ready to make your way to New Zealand! Since New Zealand is an English speaking country, it’s very easy for Americans to communicate with the locals. 

Start Planning Your Trip to New Zealand

It’s a little harder to plan a stress free New Zealand vacation, especially if you are planning on visiting multiple destinations.

As you may know, New Zealand is one of the world’s most popular destinations and with so little populated areas, it fills up quickly. Let the experts at About New Zealand help you navigate vacation planning and contact us today. 

Plan Your Custom New Zealand Trip Today


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Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

Posted on: March 5th, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments

If you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, those magical Middle Earth landscapes of New Zealand are no doubt on your bucket list.

You’ll need to travel across both New Zealand’s North and South Islands to experience all the scenic locations featured in The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films.

But one of the absolute musts is Hobbiton, where the green hills of the Shire preserve the simple comforts of food, song and dance.

And if you’re in Auckland or Rotorua, Hobbiton is just a delightfully short trip away.

How to Get to Hobbiton from Rotorua or Auckland

Visitors taking pictures in front of Hobbit hole in Hobbiton

When you book your Hobbiton Movie Set tour with About New Zealand, we’ll arrange a coach tour that takes you to Hobbiton from Rotorua or Auckland. This way you may also use the tour as a transfer between the two cities.

You’ll arrive in Matamata, where director Peter Jackson scouted out the Alexander Farm, the large sheep farm transformed into the magical Shire.

For the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the original set was made of non-permanent materials and was torn down after filming. A few remnants remained, though rather dilapidated and unkempt.

Still, the site attracted tourists and Tolkien fans from everywhere. This led to an agreement for filming the “Hobbit” trilogy – the set must be rebuilt to stand permanently once filming finishes.

Now Hobbiton has become one of the most popular attractions in New Zealand. Who wouldn’t want to explore a little slice of Middle Earth?

Discover Hobbiton

Lush gardens surrounding Hobbit hole in Hobbiton

Your tour guide will walk you across the unbelievably green landscape and show you the hobbit holes within the hills. Apart from the lush trees, flowers and gardens, keep an eye out for the incredible details you’ll find throughout the tour.

You’ll walk through the charming hobbit holes, all varying in size, as your guide shares filming and movie set secrets. See the famous Bag End Party Tree, and if you’re lucky your guide might give you one of its leaves as a souvenir!

Enjoy a Feast Fit for Hobbits

Party Marquee for Lunch in Hobbiton

When you book your Hobbiton adventure with your About New Zealand travel agent, you’ll enjoy a buffet style lunch brimming with decadent meats and fresh produce.

Indulge in a variety of desserts and wash it all down with a pint from the Green Dragon Inn.

It may not be Second Breakfast or Elevensies, but it’ll truly be a feast fit for hobbits!

Ready to go to Hobbiton?

Visiting Hobbiton from Rotorua or Auckland is easy – we’ll take care of all the planning for you. As specialists in New Zealand travel, we’ll make sure your New Zealand vacation is the trip of a lifetime. We’ll tailor your vacation to include all your bucket list items.

I Want to Go to Hobbiton!


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About New Zealand Reviews
Rating of  Average of 4.83 on a total of 23 Ratings
Eric Olberding
My wife and I had a wonderful trip to New Zealand.

About New Zealand did an excellent job of covering all the details which led to a very organized and stress free vacation! A couple of the IBIS hotels we stayed at were disappointing but on the(...)

Clyde & Sharon
A Great Experience!

It would actually please us greatly if our visit to Hobbiton might be the catalyst for others to visit the Shire. We’ve been Tolkien fans forever and lifting a pint in the Prancing Pony was one(...)

John B
Outstanding trip and customer service

Wound up with an opportunity to take some vacation time on short notice. After reaching out with a little less than a month to go til departure, we were able to arrange the most active and(...)

Bryan Betke
About New Zealand & Ana Musgray did an excellent job planning my honeymoon!