How To Talk Like A Kiwi – Understanding New Zealand Slang

So, I’m just back from yet another trip home to New Zealand (I know, poor me!)

As you might already know, I actually used to live in New Zealand! (The rest of my immediate family is still there).

And, although you probably wouldn’t think it now, I used to sound like a proper Kiwi! (Many moves and countries later, I have a pretty unique, global accent these days that people find hard to place!…)

Since moving away from New Zealand 15 years ago, I’ve come to realise that New Zealand slang and colloquialisms are pretty unique too!

How To Talk Like A Kiwi - Understanding New Zealand Slang

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Right now, I’m writing a self-drive North Island itinerary that I’m hoping to share soon.

But, as I write it, I keep thinking of all the Kiwi words and phrases that may make a trip to The Land Of The Long White Cloud (aka. Aotearoa, aka. New Zealand) a bit tricky for those not in the know…

It’s been a hot topic of conversation recently with some of my co-workers, actually! I guess I come back from my trips just that little bit more Kiwi… Apparently, I will throw in some New Zealand slang from time to time that has them all scratching their heads!

So, without further ado, below is your very own mini-dictionary to New Zealand slang. A list of words and phrases that will help you talk like a Kiwi (or at least understand the locals!) 

Kiwi can be a person, bird or fruit -New Zealand Slang
Kiwi – A Person? Bird? Fruit?


New Zealand Slang – The Art Of Shortening Words

  • Kiwi – So I kind of already used this one… New Zealanders refer to themselves as “Kiwis”. Not to be confused with the Kiwi bird, New Zealand’s national (flightless) bird, or Kiwifruit. The latter should definitely not be called just “Kiwi”
    • Aside from the above, where using the full word is important for clarity, practically all other words are shortened…
      BBQ in New Zealand Slang is Barbie
      Putting a feed on the barbie
      • Arvo – Afternoon
      • Avo – Avocado
      • Barbie – BBQ
      • Brekkie – Breakfast
      • Eggs Bene – Eggs Benedict
      • Footy – Rugby
      • Maccas – McDonald’s
      • Mozzie – Mosquito
      • OE – Overseas Experience (working holiday abroad)
      • Postie – Postman
      • Pressie – Present / Gift
      • Rellies – Relatives
      • Sunnies – Sunglasses
      • Ta – Thanks
      • Uni – University
      • Welly – Wellington (the capital!)

Putting it all together: “I had eggs bene with avo for brekkie, but I’m dying for a feed so I’m keen as for Maccas this arvo, bro!”

New Zealand Slang – Commonly Used Words

  • Chilly bin – Cooler / Ice box
  • College – High School
      • Not university, which is mostly referred to as Uni (as above)
  • Dairy – Corner shop / Convenience store
  • Feed – Eating (“Having a feed”)
  • Glad-wrap – Cling film
      • Even my husband still doesn’t get this one and I always say it!
  • Lollies – Candy / Sweets
      • Lolly-water is used to refer to alcopop
  • Marmite – While not exactly a Kiwi word, the marmite in New Zealand is different to the marmite you’re used to if you’re from Britain or Ireland so beware! It tastes quite different (or so I’m told). The marmite we have here is available but called “Our Mate”
      • Be prepared for ongoing, epic Marmite vs Vegemite debates!
  • Tea – Dinner. As well as the beverage. Just to keep it interesting
Talk like a Kiwi with New Zealand slang jandals and togs
Jandals and Togs
  • Togs – Swimsuit/bikini 
  • Jandals – flip flops. Kiwis will wear jandals all year.
      • Note, these are not sandals. Sandals are sandals
      • Don’t be surprised to see Kiwis walking around in bare feet too though! Everywhere. All the time.
  • Bach – Beach / Holiday house
  • Spa (pool) – Jacuzzi
  • Wop-wops – Out in the middle of nowhere
      • Can be shortened to just “The wops”
  • Tiki-Tour – Scenic route / Getting lost / Taking the long way around
  • Tramping – Hiking

Putting it all together: “We’re going to my mate’s bach out in the wops this weekend to go tramping. The bach has a spa pool too so make sure you bring your togs eh?”

New Zealand Slang tramping for hiking
Tramping in New Zealand

New Zealand Slang – Colloquialisms and Phrases

  • Chur – Thanks
  • Eh(?) – Can mean a variety of things depending on the context.
    • At the end of a sentence = “Don’t you think?”
    • Can also be used on it’s own to mean “What do you mean?
  • Flag (it) – Abandon an idea or activity
  • Not even – I disagree
  • Oi – Exclamation to get someone’s attention or show displeasure or surprise
  • Pack a sad – Have a whinge / Throwing a fit / Being in a bad mood
  • Squiz – A quick look
  • Yeah, nah – No
    • Nah, yeah – Yes
  • Yarn – Talk

Putting it all together: “Give us a squiz, oi, and don’t pack a sad!” 


New Zealand Slang – Descriptive words

  • Carked it – Died / Damaged beyond repair (can be about a person or a thing)
  • Choice – Awesome / Cool / Fun
  • Crack up – Really funny
  • Crook – Sick (can also be a dishonest person)
  • Egg – Douche (about a person)

    Egg New Zealand Slang
    Don’t be an Egg!

  • Far out – “Wow!” Exclamation used for emphasis (“Far out, it’s hot as!”)
  • Gutted – Really disappointed
  • Hard Case – Funny (descriptive about a person)
  • Hard Out – Intense or “For sure” / “I agree”
  • Heaps – A lot of / Loads
  • Hoon(ing) – Driving really fast (or someone who likes cars)
  • Keen – Being all for something / Interested in / Enthusiastic
  • Knackered – Really tired
  • Mean – Awesome / Cool / Fun
  • Munted – Broken / Damaged beyond repair (or being really drunk)
  • Munter – Douche
  • Naff – Odd/ Weird
  • Stink – Awful / Not cool / Too bad 
  • Sweet As – Awesome / OK / No problem
    • And other …. as ; Hot as, fun as, long as, cool as – Used for emphasis (i.e. “Really hot/fun/long/cool”)
  • Wicked – Awesome / Cool
  • Wuss – Someone who is a scaredy cat

Putting it all together: “Far out bro, I’m gutted as! I totally munted my car eh!” “Hard out! That’s stink as! Were you hooning it?” 


New Zealand Slang – Words for other people

  • Auntie – Used by kids for close female family member or friend. (Not necessarily an actual aunt or family member)
  • Bro – Brother – Endearment used for any male friend (Hey, bro!)
  • Cuz/Cuzzie – Cousin
  • Mate – Friend – Used for everyone


Maori – Te Reo (Literally = “The Language”)

This isn’t so much New Zealand slang as Maori words that are commonly used by all Kiwis. New Zealand is proud of its heritage and you’ll be sure to impress by using some of these in your conversations!

Top Tip: “wh” makes an “f” sound.

Many place names have a “wh” combination in them – e.g. “Whangarei” and “Whakatane.” These are pronounced as “Fang-a-ray” and “Fak-a-ta-knee”

  • Aotearoa – New ZealandTalking like a Kiwi using Maori (Te Reo) Words
  • Aroha – Love, compassion
  • Haere Mai – Welcome – You’ll mostly see this on signs as you enter a new district or town
  • Haka – traditional (ceremonial) dance with the purpose of challenge
  • Hangi – Maori traditional
  • Hongi – Traditional Maori greeting of touching noses together
  • Kai – Food
  • Kia Kaha – Stay Strong
  • Kia Ora – Hello / Hi
  • Kumara – Sweet potato
  • Pakeha – White person / person of European origin
  • Tapu – sacred
  • Whanau – Family


So there we have it! I hope this choice list of New Zealand slang helps you talk like a Kiwi on your New Zealand tiki-tour!

Have you been to New Zealand?

Is there any New Zealand slang or Kiwi phrases that you couldn’t make head nor tail of?

Let me know in the comments below!



New Zealand Slang - Understanding Kiwis For Beginners

4 thoughts on “How To Talk Like A Kiwi – Understanding New Zealand Slang”

  1. Thank you very much. Have a close friend in Napier. Ask him to send me a Kiwi-English dictionary. He goes over the shops. And the time he goes you appeared. Will learn what you posted. I am 60 but want to study Kiwi lingo very much. Maybe sometime will visit Napier and NZ if am alive.
    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
    Victoria. Moscow. Russia. 😊😊😊🥰🥰🥰🙏🙏🙏

    • Hi Victoria! I’m so glad you found my post and that it is helping you learn some Kiwi lingo!! I really hope you get the chance to visit your friend in Napier – it’s a beautiful place in New Zealand! Good luck with your studies 😊 I’m sure you’ll do great!

  2. I’m a kiwi and all of these are spot on! The only one I didn’t see was “cuppa” – that’s a hot drink (tea/coffee/hot chocolate (also known as milo)).

    Loved this post! And so pleased I discovered your blog, I’m off to Italy and France for Christmas/New Years and your tips are awesome!!

    Did you have any issues with Airbnb and dropped bookings? I was warned by my travel agent but I fear it’s a scam tp ensure I book hotels instead. I want the real local experience!


    • Hey Harriet! Thanks so much for your comment and *phew* 😅 glad you agree with me on these! LOL! Ah yes, cuppa! I probably didn’t think of it as it’s quite common in the U.K./Ireland too.

      And yay!! So pleased you discovered my blog too! Sounds like you’ll have an awesome Christmas and New Years this year!!!

      I have had absolutely zero issues with Air BnB. I’ve used them all over, in Europe, NZ, and now in Asia as well. Always works a treat! And definitely a bit more local than a hotel. I’d say go for it!

      Hope you have an awesome trip!!


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