28 November 2016

The ultimate guide to Kiwi slang and mannerisms | Study With New Zealand

Nicole Guinn
US Study Abroad Scholarship Student

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 runway again, eh? Cheers!”

Ever since I touched down 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 on 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


  • 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 place in Queenstown, hours to wait in line
  • Eggs are non-refrigerated (blew my American mind)
  • Ketchup is used as tomato sauce on pizza
  • 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

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.

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About the contributors
Nicole Guinn
US Study Abroad Scholarship Student

Nicole is a student at the University of Mary Washington and studied abroad at Otago University in Dunedin, New Zealand. She is a geology major and hopes to pursue a career in volcanology. Nicole was the recipient of a Generation Study Abroad Award.