The Kiwi Language

How to speak like a Kiwi?

We have compiled some everyday terms to demystify our language

New Zealand Slang and Sayings

We have our own slang. If you can familiarise yourself with basic kiwi words and terms you’ll be “good as gold”.

Some say we have a lot of terms in common with Australia, but actually, the truth, is they have stolen our terms. They claim these as their own; Far Lap, Crowded House, The Pavlova, Keith Urban the list goes on and on. They give us Possums, Magpies, Wallabies, Red Back spiders, the list goes on, They are welcome to their pests back anytime.

So, put on your jandals, togs and sunnies, chuck some tui’s in the chilly bin and take a tiki tour to the beach! Didn’t understand? Your probably not a Kiwi then, no worries, you need to check out our Kiwi-English translation to get your head around our language.

If a Kiwi asks you to pop down to the ‘dairy’, they’re not suggesting you milk a cow, they’re talking about going to what you might know as the corner shop or convenience store. Don’t let New Zealand slang confuse you – use the Kiwi-English translation guide below and ‘get to grips’ with basic Kiwi-ese.

  • Bach North Island term for a basic holiday home, classically found at the beach or by a lake, in the South Island also known as the Mainland it’s called a Crib.
  • Beehive The hive-shaped executive wing of New Zealand’s Parliamentary Buildings, or just a Beehive
  • Bloke The common man, the ordinary guy in the street
  • Boy-racer Young person in a fast car, usually with the stereo ‘cranked up’ (‘loud as’!)
  • Capsicum Bell pepper
  • Cheers Often used in place of ‘thank you’
  • Chilly bin Insulated box used to keep food and beer cold a must in the summertime at the beach
  • Chippies Potato chips or crisps
  • Chippy Builder
  • Choice Great, excellent: “That sports car is choice!”
  • Chocka Full
  • Crib as per Bach, used mainly in the South Island, a holiday home
  • Crook Sick
  • Cuppa Cup of tea
  • Cuzzies Relatives
  • Dairy Convenience store, sometimes called ‘the corner dairy’
  • Footy Rugby, the national obsession
  • Good as Gold Someone being really good or referring to your own wellbeing ‘Im as good as gold mate”
  • Gumboots Waterproof rubber boots, also known as ‘gummies’
  • Haere Mai Welcome
  • Hangi Traditional Maori cooking method using an underground earth oven
  • Hard case Clown, witty person, “he’s a bit of a hard case”
  • Heaps A lot, also bloody heaps means even more
  • Hokey pokey New Zealand’s favourite ice cream flavour, vanilla with toffee bits
  • Jandals Open-topped rubber sandals, known elsewhere as thongs or flip-flops
  • Kia ora Hello
  • Kiwi A flightless bird which only comes out at night, or a person from New Zealand
  • Kiwifruit Small, fuzzy, brown-skinned and green-fleshed fruit
  • Knackered A tired person (“I’ve been at work all day and I’m knackered!”) or a broken thing (“My car won’t start, I think the engine’s knackered”).
  • Lollies Candy or sweets
  • Loo Toilet, also known as a ‘dunny’
  • Marge Margarine, not to be confused with Marge Simpson
  • Mate A close friend
  • Mate’s rates A discount for a friend (or the kind of good discount you’d give a friend)
  • Motu Island
  • OE Overseas Experience
  • Pakeha New Zealander of European descent
  • Pavlova iconic New Zealand dessert is a baked meringue topped with cream and fruit this was first made in New Zealand, but some Australians wrongly claim it as theirs.
  • Pinky Bar Chocolate bar with a marshmallow centre
  • Pom or Pommie Someone from Britain
  • Shout Paying for something on behalf of others (often a round of drinks or dinner)
  • Puke Hill, or throwing up, being sick, vomiting.
  • Strapped for cash Short of money
  • Stuck in To ‘get stuck in’ is to start working on something.
  • Sunnies Sunglasses
  • Sweet/Sweet as Great, excellent (“This concert is going to be sweet as!”)
  • Ta Thanks. Thank you
  • Takeaways “Food taken” – ‘to go’, often fast food such as fish ‘n’ chips maybe pronounced “fush ‘n’ chups” in the North Island
  • Tea Dinner, but can also be a cup of tea
  • Thanks Often used in place of ‘please’, as in “I’ll have a bottle of orange juice, thanks.”
  • Tiki tour Scenic route or sometimes just taking the long way
  • Togs Bathing suit
  • Tomato sauce Ketchup
  • Ute Utility vehicle
  • Varsity University
  • Whanga Harbour, bay
  • Wop-wops In the middle of nowhere
  • Yonks Forever, a long time “It’ll take yonks to get there”

If you have any other terms we have missed just leave a reply and we will add the list