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10 Phrases You Need to Know to Blend With the Locals in New Zealand

New Zealand Languages
by Natasha Knight Mar 9, 2018

If you want to pass for a local in New Zealand (or just understand the locals), you’ll have to learn the country’s lingo. Just like in Australia, and Scotland, the Kiwi English is not the version you’ve learned in your school books, so brush up on the basics and blend in like a pro.

1. “Jandals”

The Australians have thongs, the rest of the English-speaking world has flip-flops, we Kiwis have jandals.

2. “Sweet as”

Your friend can meet you at the mall? Sweet as. You passed your exams? Sweet as. Anything great has happened? Sweet as.

3. “Dairy”

Forget the corner shop, gas station, or truck stop. In New Zealand, everyone heads to the “dairy” if they’re ever short on supplies. Supermarkets are still supermarkets (or grocery shops); trolleys are called “trundlers”; and if anyone suggests you should go to Push’n’shove, don’t be scared, this is just a nickname for one of the large chain supermarkets — Pak’n’Save. We’re funny like that.

4. “Yeah nah”

If you’re too polite to say no, “yeah nah” is the perfect phrase. Not too formal, not too informal, non-committal.

5. “Togs”

Imagine you’re on your way to the beach, jandals and all, when one of your new Kiwi friends yells at you to remember your “togs”. Is it your surfboard, your sun hat, or even sun cream? Nope, it’s just our word for swimming costumes — covering everything from trunks, bikinis, swimsuits and even speedos.

6. “Munted”

It’s not broken, it’s just “munted”.

7. “Bach”

Everyone either knows someone who has a “bach” or has one themselves. A “bach” is what we, Kiwis, call a beach house. They range from the run-down sheds right on the beachfront that have been handed down generations to brand new modern builds.

8. “Gummies”

No sweet treat here! “Gummies” are rain boots. We Kiwis are so proud of our gumboots that we built a giant corrugated iron one in Taihape (a town near the middle of the North Island) to celebrate our favorite footwear (right after jandals, of course!).

9. “Kumara”

Kumara fries, roasted kumaras, mashed kumaras, etc. “Kumara” sounds much more delicious than “sweet potato” doesn’t it?

10. “Tiki tour”

When in New Zealand, always take the “tiki tour”, i.e. “the long way around” or “the scenic route”, unless you’re in a cab.

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