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Me Talk Kiwi One Day

new zealand slang

When I first moved to New Zealand, I thought it was going to be so much easier than moving to Spain.

As far as I was concerned, NOWHERE ON THE ENTIRE PLANET could have more red tape or be more difficult than Spain. And for the most part, I was right. New Zealand is not exactly a challenging destination, by any means.

First off, they speak English in New Zealand. Hey, I speak English too! How hard could it be?

Sigh. Really, I should know better by now, right?

new zealand slang

It all started the first day I did laundry in my new house in Wellington. Or should I say my new “flat” since I am now in the Queen’s territory.

Pulling my clothes out of the washer, I asked my new “flatties,” “flatmates” aka roommates where I could hang them up to dry.

“Downstairs outside there’s a clothesline in the back of the house,” they told me, “and they’re pigs on the ground.”

Blinking, surely I heard them wrong. “Pigs? What do you mean ‘pigs’? Why are there pigs outside?” I asked.

Looking at me like I was insane, “PIGS! You know PIGS that you hang your clothes with. PIGS!” They all said in unison pinching their fingers together in motion.

“Oh my god, you mean PEGS.”

new zealand slang


This was just the beginning of what would become a slippery slope downhill of me trying and failing to understand the New Zealand accent, slang and/or vernacular.

In general, I’d like to think I’m pretty apt at understanding other accents and languages. I’ve studied many languages and worked teaching and tutoring English. But sometimes, like with the case of the mysterious pigs in Kelburn Wellington, all understanding completely eludes me.

However, after much pushing and prodding, I finally say down and watched the epic New Zealand classic movie Boy, the other night, when I realized I only understood 2/3rds of what they were saying.

new zealand slang


The only complicated thing about the New Zealand accent is the vowels, which I guess is a pretty big complication. They like to swallow the ends of words here, similar to southern Spain, and then of course there is the Great New Zealand Vowel Shift and somehow “e”s have become “i”s.

Ben is pronounced “bin,” “head” becomes “hid,” while “really” and “rarely” sound exactly the same. Talk about confusing.

When I first stepped off the proverbial boat in Auckland, it didn’t take long for me to start to pick up on different structuring and common phrases used throughout New Zealand. Many of them I was aware of as a native English speaker, and while they may not be common or the go-to phrase in America, I understood perfectly what was meant.

new zealand slang

For example Kiwis love to say the word “heaps.”

“I’ve got heaps of work to do before I can go home.” “There are heaps of sheep in New Zealand.” “I missed you heaps.” You get the idea.

A little more advanced is “keen.”

“Are you keen to go to the cinema?” I’d hear from friends. “Sure, I feel like going to the movies,” I’d reply, stubborn in my effort to maintain my Americaness (someone has to).

new zealand slang

But one of my favorite Kiwi-isms, as I like to call them, is New Zealand’s fondness for the word “ay .”

What, are we in Canada?

Here, they like to just stick it on the end of a sentence here or there, giving it a little life or flavor. Almost like a little question but not quite, opening the dialogue up for a confirmation or reply.

“That’s a really nice hat, ay.” “Wow, that southerly is blowing in strong, ay.”

The other day I caught myself saying “ay” at the end of the sentence. Crap, I’m going native.

new zealand slang


Anywho, after months of making mental notes and attempting to compile a list of new kiwi vocabulary in my “hid” — read: head, here are my 20 favorite and most heard New Zealand words and phrases. Enjoy.

1. Sweet as

Quite possibly the most famous of kiwi expressions, “sweet as” means good, ok, cool. Whatever. An expression of affirmation, more or less, usually followed up with “bro.”

Sometimes living in New Zealand I feel like I’m transported to a California surfer town in the 90’s.

Though I absolutely refuse to say “sweet as” because it is grammatically incorrect and makes me want to punch a baby. Sweet as… what? Finish the damn sentence! Sweet as pie? Sweet as candy?

Oh and it doesn’t end there. You can pretty much get away with sticking an “as” at the end of any adjective here in New Zealand. Mean as. Cheap as. Or my personal favorite, beached as – see video below.

2. Kia ora

Kia ora is a Maori greeting that’s common in New Zealand nowadays. Literally meaning “be well,” it’s pretty much synonymous with hello. Though, I still feel like I can’t get away with  saying it, no matter how hard I try.

3. Wop-wops

Ha, I nearly died when I heard this one the first time. The wop-wops mean the middle of nowhere. The boonies. Out in the sticks. Try saying that with a straight face.

I feel like I should add that New Zealand gives a whole new meaning to the wop-wops; I am of course referring to the fact that there are no people in New Zealand, well there are 4.4 million people, which is roughly the size of Boston or an apartment building in Shanghai.

I used to think the small town I grew up in Virginia was in the boonies. But noooooo. I mean I came across towns in the South Island, population 5, towns that if you blinked while driving through, you’d miss them.

So maybe wop-wops is more acceptable here.

new zealand slang

4. Dairy

Kiwi word for the convenience store, i.e. the 24 hour shop on the corner where you can get your milk, eggs, or if you’re me, your midnight craving for a chocolate bar.

5. Chilly bin

Care to hanker a guess?

The chilly bin is a cooler in New Zealand, perfect for your barbies (BBQ’s) on the beach packed with ice cold beer. Favorite.

new zealand slang

6. Chocolate fish

A New Zealand staple, the chocolate fish is basically a pink or white marshmallow shaped fish covered in chocolate with ripple-like scales on them.

It’s a pretty common word used for rewarding a kid or someone for doing a good job. And I can vouch they are delicious. Oh, and since it’s New Zealand, we say “fush.”

There is also an amazing cafe in Wellington called the Chocolate Fish Cafe right on the beach in Scorching Bay, which was popular with the Lord of the Rings cast when they lived in Wellington, though now the name’s changed and it’s called Scorch-o-Rama.

new zealand slang


7. Book a bach

Bach (pronounced batch) is the kiwi word for holiday home, and pretty much the only affordable way to travel in New Zealand given the absurd costs of hotels, hostels and even some campsites here. Split one with a group of friends and it becomes cheap, and it’s actually a great local way to experience New Zealand.

8. Jandals, togs, and stubbies

Luckily I knew what jandals were before I arrived in New Zealand because my friend Cole’s blog is called Four Jandals. Prepared. Boom. Oh, jandals are flip-flops BTW.

Togs was more complicated. It took me a while to realize that togs mean swimsuit.

And stubbies, which I think I could have lived without NOT knowing or seeing. Short shorts for men in the 70’s, you still see them around town and they are shocking to behold, at least for Americans. We grow up with an appropriate short level in mind for men, which is often put to the test overseas where dudes like to bare more leg than what we yanks are accustomed to seeing.

Even though I don’t see too many short shorts out and about on the street, that does not include going to the gym or the beach where they are still quite popular. Shudder.

9. Chur bro

Another popular kiwi expression, “chur,” which as I’ve taken to understand it means cheers or thanks. Again, commonly followed up with the obligatory “bro.”

First really started hearing this from my tour guide with Haka Tours in the South Island.

10. Yeah nah

Yeah nah yeah nah, which is it GODDAMNIT?!

However, points must be awarded to the Kiwis for inventing a phrase that means both yes and no at the same time. Good on ya, mate! (another common phrase here which I *think* means well done amigo but I could be wrong).

11. Tramping

In New Zealand tramping means hiking; it does NOT mean engaging in drunken, slutty illicit behavior as one (ME) might initially be led to believe. You’re welcome for the clarification.

new zealand slang

Me tramping in Abel Tasman

12. Kumara, capsicum, and feijoa

All food words completely stumped me when I first arrived. Nevermind the fact that New Zealand uses many a British word for food like rocket (arugula), chips (fries) and aubergine (eggplant) PLUS having their own words for things. Mildly confusing, especially at restaurants when I had to ask what something was, and I got a look that says are you stupid, you speak English. Ugh.

Kumara means sweet potatoes or yams AND they have purple ones here OMG! I’ve only ever seen orange sweet potatoes before coming to New Zealand. Tangent.

Capsicum means bell peppers while feijoa is a New Zealand fruit that is about the size of a tomato and has a tangy flavor – and feijoa takes amazing in juices and smoothies here, give it a try!

new zealand slang


13. Skux

As I am led to believe, skux is an ironic word for a player in New Zealand. As you might have guessed, I have not been able to pull this off in casual conversation so far in Wellington. However, there is still time and I am optimistic.

Challenge accepted.

14. A mare 

A mare is short for a nightmare, like “I was on the piss and got into some trouble; I had a bloody mare last night.” You know, because I can pull off saying something like that.

So basically having a bad time or if you end up in a crazy situation.

15. L&P 

A New Zealand classic, L&P is a sweet soft drink meaning Lemon & Paeroa, Paeroa being the place where it was manufactured. It only took a day to grow on me, but it tastes like watered down fizzy lemonade, in a good way.

Just trust me on this.

new zealand slang


16. Op shops

Thank you Macklemore for clearing this one up, i.e. the New Zealand word for “thriftshop,” extremely popular in Wellington with its thriving hipster culture and love for vintage and record shops .

17. Waikikamukau 

Doesn’t really mean anything just means some random-ass town in New Zealand that’s pronounced “Why kick a moo cow” which makes me laugh ALL THE TIME.

Sorry, had to share.

new zealand slang


18. Pack a sad

Pack a sad means throw a tantrum or become moody in New Zealand. Who knew I’d be so good at this one?

19. Pavlova 

I had pavlova forced on me not long after moving to Wellington, and while I tried to like it, it is far too sweet to take more than a few bites. Basically it’s a meringue cake thing with cream and fruit on it.

However, what is vastly more entertaining is that Kiwis and Aussies fight to the death over the invention and ownership of pavlova. Just bring it up next time you’re around one or the other and see what happens.

new zealand slang


20. Spin a yarn

“You’re spinning yarns mate” means you’re lying or exaggerating, or telling a long story.

I will take this opportunity to exert some self control and NOT make a sheep joke.

21. Bum bag

Bum bag means fanny pack.

22. Tu Meke

Tu meke is a Maori word that means “too much.” Nowadays it’s popular among youths as a response to something impressive or awesome.

23. Dave

Again, as I am given to understand Dave is used as one word reply usually to someone being a dick.

24. Gumboots 

Gumboots are rubber rain boots or wellies. First time I saw this was out in the country at a convenience store where there was a sign that said “please leave your muddy gumboots outside.” Good thing there was an illustration.

25. She’ll be right

Things will be fine. Right as rain.

Ok spill. What are some strange words you’ve encountered abroad? Have you been to another country where your native language is spoken – what words did they use differently? Any kiwi lingo I missed? Oh, are you from New Zealand – and if so, who invented pavlova?

**FYI the title Me Talk Kiwi One Day is a play on David Sedaris’ famous book Me Talk Pretty One Day

new zealand slang

613 Responses to Me Talk Kiwi One Day

  1. Chris May 20, 2014 at 12:36 pm #

    Hi Liz, I’m a kiwi living in Dunedin, and I’d just like to say thanks for writing your NZ blogs. I happened across them today and linked them to some of my overseas friends. Maybe your photos and stories will convince them to visit! I hope you enjoy your stay 🙂

  2. Rish May 22, 2014 at 3:27 am #

    haha im a born and bred kiwi, hailing from south auckland and do notice the range of different accents throughout NZ.

    Also im under 25 and ‘skux’ was used a lot at school meant for someone attractive/goodlooking.
    and yes i agree using the word c*nt is very common with us young folk, we love to swear in nz but if used right its not meant to be offensive ie: He’s a good c*nt. obviously the older and reserved folk of our lil nation wouldnt agree lol

    some people need to chill out with their negative comments.

    that’s my 2cent piece


  3. Emz May 31, 2014 at 12:17 am #

    I have just left NZ to live in Aus and this made me so homesick haha. I never realised they were confined to NZ but people look at me odd here when I say sweet as 🙂 Hope you are still enjoying our awesome country

  4. Daniel June 23, 2014 at 3:19 am #

    Cheeky cunt mate

  5. Jon June 26, 2014 at 2:28 pm #

    Liz, you might want to warn readers named Randy (perfectly fine stateside) that this means ‘horny’ in NZ, so if they were a new visitor introducing themsleves, saying “Hi, I’m Randy” they would be a little on the intimate side!

    Also, you can take ‘sweet as’, and make it better- if something is exceptionally fine, it’s ‘as as’.

  6. Karyn @ Not Done Travelling July 11, 2014 at 5:49 pm #

    This post is a classic! I was pissing myself laughing, especially at the Beached As Bro whale. I haven’t seen that video in a few years, thanks for the walk down memory lane. 🙂

    I’m Aussie but because there are so many Kiwis over here we are used to hearing some of these words too. I hadn’t even realised how commonplace it was because when our Kiwi friends here talk we can understand basically everything they say. OK, yes, we make fun of their accents, but we can understand. (Kinda how people from Canada and the US get each other).

    But things like “are you keen” I hadn’t actually noticed before – now it’s blindingly obvious to me that my Kiwi friends say that all the time.

    OK, back to watching the Beached As whale now. 😀

    • Rawiri December 1, 2015 at 11:51 am #

      Kia ora..being a native of New Zealand I’ve got to say I was cracking up with these observations and Kiwi slang we use on a daily basis.

      Ka pai!!

  7. MacKensie July 13, 2014 at 3:32 pm #

    Haha! As an American married to a Kiwi I can definitely relate. Even after several years together we still have moments of misunderstanding. He has yet to give me a satisfying explanation of what a ‘duffer’ is. All I know is, occasionally, I’m just a ‘wee duffer’.

    • Stacey January 24, 2015 at 12:56 pm #

      I’m a kiwi, haven’t heard “duffer” in years! We say “you’re a silly duffer” when someone’s being an egg haha

  8. Rennae July 19, 2014 at 8:35 am #

    Best blog ever! Totally using this when I go overseas!!!!

  9. Sarah July 22, 2014 at 4:58 am #

    Mum moved to Auckland about 8 years ago and every time I visit I find more and more of those strange/awesome little kiwi “quirks.” Usually they’re somewhat easy to figure out (especially if you’ve ever been subjected to cockney slang) but the little differences in meaning between common words are dangerous. When she first went over my mom had a fall while tramping that bruised and cut her butt. When explaining it to a coworker she tried to be more polite by saying “fanny” instead of “ass”. Turns out New Zealand Fanny is a bit closer to the front and she mistakenly was telling everyone how bruised and scraped her vajay was… good job being more polite…

    after a year of being over there the first time I came back to the States full of slang i didnt even realize I was saying… things like togs, jandals, mackers, dairy, chips, take away, etc somehow snuck their way in to my vocabulary and still come out strong when I go back. Especially for Mom, she comes to visit the states and seems so foreign in some of her vocabulary and social skills that her american accent does not seem authentic.

    I at first thought that “sweet as” was “sweet ass” as in “thats a sweet ass car” luckily it doesn’t sound too different but i was quickly corrected in a text message to my error… I had a case of the “colly wobbles” (nausea from nerves) on a first date. But my all-time, hands down, without a doubt favorite kiwi slang… “sparrows fart” for early morning. The visual it provides is just fantastic…

  10. Judy August 2, 2014 at 12:30 am #

    Just to be clear, if your chocolate fish has white marshmallow, it’s a fake. It has to be pink.

    And now the Aussies are trying to claim they invented flat whites as well as pavlova…

  11. Andrea August 3, 2014 at 9:08 am #

    I love your post! Im trying to prep my Czech hubby for the big move back home a d your blog is fab. Positive and funny. We say ‘ ay’ at the end of our sentences because it’s a trait taken from Maori. It’s a social inclusion thing. Like, “We’ll grab some Kia, ay”. Keep blogging, you’re rockin it.

  12. Jane August 21, 2014 at 10:15 pm #

    Loved this post. I laughed out loud. As an Aussie living in NZ I can definitely relate to some of those. How about “good-as-gold”! And that ridiculous nek-minit thing? And my pet peeve… woman and women being pronounced the same way!

  13. Joe August 27, 2014 at 4:45 am #

    This article is great! My wife and I are from the US and we experienced the same thing on our honeymoon in NZ. We thought we’d be fine since we speak English. We’d hardly been off the plane 5 minutes when we approached a sign in the airport “NO PRAMS ON THE TRAVELATOR!”. At this moment we knew we had underestimated the differences. By the way, a “pram” is a stroller and the “travelator” is a moving sidewalk, or like the flat escalator.

  14. Shaun September 2, 2014 at 11:12 pm #

    Great post. Great site. A few of these terms, as you note, are of British origin, like gumboots. My English wife and I had been married ten years and I thought I had heard and fully mastered all the “funny” words Brits use – at least they are funny to us Yanks. But then one day I walked into the kitchen with some groceries and she said, “watch out, the hob’s on.” She was in the other room and I couldn’t follow her gaze, so I didn’t put the bags down, I just scanned the kitchen for what might constitute a hob, and what it might be on. Completely stymied, I asked her, “what?” and she said the same thing again. Eventually I asked her to come in and please explain what she was talking about. She came in and pointed to the stove. She calls it “the cooker,” not a term commonly heard in the States, but is at least easily decipherable. She pointed to it, but said nothing, like I should be able to take over from there and understand her. I asked to please explain in clear terms what she was trying to tell me. She pointed to the burner, and said, “This is the hob, and it is hot because I turned it on.” Like she was talking to 6year old. I explained to her that we called that a burner. She just shook her head, pointing out that where she comes from, burning things was something one tried to avoid doing on the stove (though she said cooker).

  15. Mike September 18, 2014 at 11:15 pm #

    I m a kiwi and I often find myself using the yeah/nah conundrum/contradiction response involuntarily but when I think about the reason I say it, I guess it’s that I m agreeing with what the person says, I suppose in an attempt to be inclusive, but disagreeing with the fundamental statement or question which is being raised at the time. I’ve hit a mental blank and can’t give an example. But its along those lines. You agree out of politeness but disagree on the main point.

    • MJ January 24, 2015 at 5:32 pm #

      You’re close! But not quite. It’s essentially saying “Yes, I see what you’re saying but (either) you’ve missed this/you’re mistaken because…

      Unfortunately a lot of Kiwis don’t realise that is the reason why it is that way until they find themselves using the phrase. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the initial statement was completely wrong, as you point out.

    • Amber February 1, 2015 at 5:55 am #

      Ha! Exactly, like “It’s a nice day today eh?” “oooh Yeah nah, Its a nice sunny day but that wind is cold”

      Thats the easiest example I could find

  16. Liz November 10, 2014 at 4:26 pm #

    Hi, I just came across your site and this post cracked me up! I’m married to a Kiwi (although we live in the UAE now) and even after almost 5 years we still come across sayings in each other’s English that are new! My husband is a linguist and likes to explain it all to me! (We were recently in Whangarei for my brother-in-law’s wedding and I was the only American amongst a big group of Kiwi’s – it was hysterical to say the least!). –Liz

    • Anne Blomfield January 25, 2015 at 7:55 pm #

      yeh nah is used when you agree but not totally or you are sitting in the middle of a statement.

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  18. Paul December 4, 2014 at 12:25 am #

    I loved this post, the chocolate fish looked amazing

  19. Maddwish January 24, 2015 at 1:03 pm #

    Re Bum Bag/Fanny Pack – Now you have to explain what “fanny” means in NZ…

    • MJS January 24, 2015 at 11:02 pm #

      Read it again carefully Maddwish. More to the front, and, ahem, *cough*, if you’re a bloke, you don’t have one. Reminds me of the story of the visiting American lecturer who joked about spanking someone on the fanny. Students were scandalised.

  20. Vailele January 24, 2015 at 2:04 pm #

    Loved reading this. Do we really say fush instead of fish? No we don’t. Or do we?
    Who invented the pavlova and flat white? Honestly I don’t care. I just mentioned it to my family and they started getting angry when I said that I don’t care about it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a proud Kiwi. Anyways this is choice as

    • Meg Amor August 24, 2016 at 3:50 pm #

      LOL. Me too. I loved reading this. 🙂

      Yes, we really do say fush, not fish. Our vowels are flatter and more monotone than the Aussies feesh. 🙂

      The pavlova was named by the Aussies and not invented by either country. It’s actually a German ‘cake.’ called a Schaum Torte, It seems that the recipe for one was on a box of cornflour imported to New Zealand at the time from the States. But the origin of of the recipe is German.

      Um… I don’t have to put my phone number or address on here, do I? LOL. I know everyone wants to kill me. And haven’t got a clue on the flat white, sorry. 🙂

  21. MJS January 24, 2015 at 10:59 pm #

    Hilarious! Not wanting to be a nit picker, but I have to clarify – we don’t call yams kumaras. We call them yams.

  22. James January 24, 2015 at 11:13 pm #

    “Sweet as” is short for “Sweet as a nut” and is a British saying.

    • James January 24, 2015 at 11:15 pm #

      The Yanks call sweet potatoes yams. I don’t know what they call, what we call yams.

      • Amber January 25, 2015 at 10:55 am #

        New Zealand yams are actually Oca and they originate in South America.

    • A B January 25, 2015 at 7:57 pm #

      Yams & kumara are totally different

      • Amber February 1, 2015 at 5:58 am #

        Agree, kumara are sweet potato – definitely not yams – yams are small and look like clumps of coloured sheep poo

        • Mike, Nelson, NZ February 1, 2015 at 1:17 pm #

          If you grew up in the southern US, as I did, you likely will not be aware that there are two different things involved here. To us, yams and sweet potatoes were one and the same.

          It appears, though, that yams and sweet potatoes are actually different — who knew? And likely as not, actual yams never appeared on your table.

        • High Josh, ask Friedrich, I sent him 2 emails with all the photos. I’m not a public person, this is the first time I sent a comment in any blog or public place.I just saw the new photos, you are truly talented. I like a lot how you bring a shine to your photos. They have a touch of the old masters painting the Last Supper. (I’m not religious though)Thank you for keeping us updated on him over this year.Julia

  23. Koro January 25, 2015 at 5:29 am #

    Left Aotearoa over 10yrs ago and some phrases I can’t identify with whilst others are classics. Crack up at ‘pig’ for ‘peg’, ‘bin’ for ‘ben’ and ‘fush’ for ‘fish’…. and found myself trying to find similarities in sound but fail lol Awww gumon, give us Kiwi’s a fair go hahahaha

  24. Sue January 25, 2015 at 10:03 am #

    Love your perspective on our language! I had a similar ‘pig’ moment when trying to help some American and Canadian friends pitch their tent in Namibia – I’ll never forget the utter confusion on their faces when I told them it’d be easier if they put their tent ‘pigs’ in the ground first – oh you mean ‘stakes’ they finally responded when I pointed to the shiny metal things lying in the dirt. PS: if you like chocolate fish, have you tried Pineapple Lumps yet? I’ve gotten many a foreign friend hooked on them…

    • Roger November 13, 2015 at 12:57 pm #

      I was born in England but live in New Zealand. I had exactly the same dilemma when going into a hardware store for clothes pegs. When I pronounced pegs in a British accent the shopkeeper asked me to repeat myself. Resisting the temptation to mimic the Kiwi pronunciation and say “pig” for worry of taking the piss, and went about describing the required item and was soon understood. I now adopt a different and more acceptable method of making myself understood. I engage in a little pre-request banter, such as “How are you today?” or “Wow it’s hot today, eh?” This unconsciously indicates that it is me with the foreign accent and allows the shopkeeper to make allowance! Now he knows I speak “funny” he knows to listen more closely!

  25. Shane February 6, 2015 at 9:58 pm #

    Wow I didn’t realize there were so many differences even from Australia!

  26. JC February 16, 2015 at 2:49 pm #

    Wha Ho!
    When we SHIFTED to NZ with our MOGGIES, we were GOBSMACKED at how un-English we really spoke!
    Now we just throw on our JUMPERS and TRAINERS and hit the town for our BITS & BOBS, or to just join friends for BREKKIE of BUBBLE & SQUEAK or a CUPPA.
    It’s always a lot of fun to have Kiwis over as well, to watch a bit of FOOTIE on the TELLY. They love a good YARN and are helpful with TIDYING up and taking out the RUBBISH.

  27. Priscilla February 26, 2015 at 1:10 pm #

    Haha you’ve definitely picked up on some of our classic Kiwi sayings/slang! I think part of the reason why we say ‘yeah-nah’ is because we don’t like being direct with people when we disagree with them – we’d prefer to ‘soften’ our disagreement a bit.

    Check out these two clips on the NZ accent – it’s by an American linguist lady and she absolutely nails it! – NZ accent tip – NZ accent tip -greetings and pleasantries

  28. Todd March 15, 2015 at 9:51 am #

    Don’t forget the widespread and casual use of the “C”word that can be used to be either offensive or endearing.

    • Tristan November 25, 2015 at 1:07 pm #

      One of my favourite kiwi expressions. And one I’m guilty of enjoying a little too often. To express low regard for someone. Or you can yea nah it and make it a compliment by putting good before it. Apparently tourists don’t understand what you mean when you call them a fucking good cunt! Not that I can really think of anytime I’ve used it as endearing to a female. Girls don’t generally like being called such things.

  29. Kyla March 22, 2015 at 7:03 am #

    This is hilarious. I’m a kiwi girl currently living in Madrid so a lot of your posts about Spain are really interesting! I have so many American friends here who have picked up on exactly the same language differences. I have even offered to buy the first person who perfects my accent brunch. This deal is basically just providing me with a few laughs each day. Your posts are fantastic, I hope you are enjoying living in my home country!

  30. Aaron April 18, 2015 at 12:42 pm #

    hahaha im a kiwi and this post is gold!

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  32. Sue May 18, 2015 at 12:57 am #

    I am a Kiwi with an American boyfriend. The other night it was a bit cold so I said,”do you like skivvies?” thinking I might get him one for his birthday soon. He said, “Well, I need them.” I said “They keep you warm, eh?” Got a grunt in response. I said,”Especially round your neck, eh?” He looked puzzled and said “Why would I put them up there?”
    Yep. I didn’t know that skivvies are undies in America. Had a big laugh over that one!

  33. Elliott May 24, 2015 at 7:27 am #

    Haha.. When Canadians say “eh” it confirms that it is a question. When Kiwis and Australians say “ay” it confirms a statement.

  34. Nathan June 18, 2015 at 6:11 pm #

    a little surprised that you, being from the South (Virginia is pretty far north, I know… but it was part of “The South”), weren’t familiar with the phrase “spinning yarns.”

    At least in Texas, that phrase is pretty common, and my friend from Alabama says it is common there, as well.

    However, the rest of your post is rather entertaining.

  35. Amanda P June 18, 2015 at 8:59 pm #

    Haha this is great. I’m not sure where I picked it up, but I say “ay” a lot so I guess I’d fit in. Sweet as would annoy me too. Ah I love chilly bin also. I’m not sure if Kiwis invented Yeah nah. Americans use it as well. I do on occasion as well lol. I’ve heard spin a yarn used by U.S. Southerners also. I had a camp counselor from New Zealand as a kid and remember him using “bum bag” for fanny pack. I would have been totally lost with gumboots without a picture as well lol.

    I’m certainly living in Germany and there are some words that look and sound either exactly the same or very similar in both languages but mean completely different things. For example, we had these little boxes of rat poison all over housing in Heidelberg that said “Poison Gift”. I thought they were trying to be clever, but yeah no (see there I go lol) Gift in German means “poison”. I recently heard about someone living here named Gift and really had to wonder if Germans assume that her parents didn’t like her. There is pepperoni pizza in both America and Germany though in Germany it’s Peperoni, and in Germany it’s not meat. Here it’s a pepper. If you want something like American pepperoni, you’d ask for Salami (which tastes more like American pepperoni and not at all like our sandwich meat salami). The exception to this is if you got to Pizza Hut (which they advertise as Pizza the American Way, but it’s actually much better tasting than American Pizza Hut). There pepperoni pizza is actually a pepperoni pizza. Whew!

    • Carmel August 9, 2015 at 9:17 pm #

      Hi Amanda, I am also a Kiwi living in Germany at the moment, and I fell into the ‘false’ pepperoni trap. When I first visited here with friends I ordered a ‘Peperoni’ Flammkuchen at a restaurant (thinking I was getting salami) and nearly burnt my mouth off when I took a bite and found it was full of red hot chilli peppers! what a shock..lots of laughter from my friends.
      Also, as an English teacher, I have to be very aware of not using ‘kiwi slang’ and speak very neutral English so as not to confuse my students. The hard bit now will be preparing my German partner with these unique NZ phrases for when we move back to NZ next year – he is only at A1 level English so its going to be a big challenge!

  36. Christ T Church July 4, 2015 at 4:01 am #

    I would like to point out that the vocabulary differences between North and South Islanders vary a lot.
    Im a South Islander and i can honestly say ive never heard of “Skux”. Closest thing i can think of using your explanation would just be a man whore/ slut.
    A Mare? yeah nah bro, thats called a shit nights sleep. Maybe those North Islanders put to much thought into it. Down here we keep our bedroom things private.
    Dave? wazzat? an egg?

    Heres one tho… you said “fanny”. we call that the front bum. ie lady bits (ewe know what im talkin bout).

  37. Sandrine July 18, 2015 at 5:45 am #

    Thank you for this short lesson of kiwi, it will help me if I travel there. And now I know I won’t go there to eat Pavlovas.

  38. Carol August 7, 2015 at 2:27 pm #

    Being an American who has read all of Roselind James’ Escape to New Zealand books, I really enjoyed this article. I even knew a lot of the words and phrases! In one of the books, a dad refers to “crissie pressies” (Christmas presents). I thought it was so funny! Kind of cutsie for a man to say, but I loved it! I am interested in anything New Zealand (All Blacks included!)! Love to go there some day! 🙂

  39. Bruce Roberts August 7, 2015 at 4:20 pm #

    Hey you forgot zed. I am a good old redneck boy living in NZ with my amazing Kiwi Samoan wife and it took me a long time to say the letter z as zed…they say “Oh that’s proper English from the homeland England but why isn’t it a, bed, ced, dead? Why only that one lettle letter, the last, that they pronounce that way. Being a redneck in New Zealand I think they talk funny! And also the greeting Kia Ora actually means “with Life” which I think is a great way to greet someone!

    • se7en April 11, 2016 at 3:18 pm #

      It’s Zed because it’s from Zeta, the greek letter Z is based on. You see it in other languages too, in French it’s zed and in German it’s tset

    • August 9, 2016 at 10:46 pm #

      Hello there! This is kind of off topic but I need some advice from an established blog. Is it difficult to set up your own blog? I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty fast. I’m thinking about making my own but I’m not sure where to start. Do you have any ideas or suggestions? Thank you

    • http://www./ November 4, 2016 at 5:50 pm #

      Hi I just made this and it was delicious! Definitely a hit with the family! Thanks for sharing. I was wondering if you had any idea what the caloric value per serving was? Thank again!

  40. Franni August 9, 2015 at 9:14 am #

    Prawns. First time I met my mother in law she asked me if I liked prawns, to what I bluntly spat out PORN??? If I like PORN? Real ice breaker

  41. Mustafa Elshiekh August 11, 2015 at 12:21 pm #

    It’s amazing. … really I love this post. .I am thinking to move and see kiwis and test the chocolate fish

  42. Otel kapadokya August 12, 2015 at 2:35 am #

    Very nice one.Thank you again.I loved it

  43. Colin September 5, 2015 at 3:26 pm #

    Loved reading everyones input – I’m kiwi and most of the slang is pretty on to it..!
    The ‘yea nah’ thing.. the way I see that in a conversation is like ummm… you’ve said your bit, my turn.. or, how about this?
    so if I say yea nah, or yea, nah nah (mixture of)… i’m basically saying – heard it, let me speak or comment too..
    or if i say yea nah (nah) and someone else jumps in before I have my say, and I agree with the new comment then I’ll acknowlege that with – yea yea yea (might follow that up with a ‘all good’)… then we all hard out laugh.. maaaates!
    all depends on how the coversation goes… have fun
    but honestly… I don’t hear the word ‘fush’.. I hear ‘fish’… unless an aussie says it and then I hear ‘fesh’ (it’s a kiwi thing.. I couldn’t resist hehehe)

  44. Emily November 1, 2015 at 4:49 pm #

    I’m kiwi, when I first started working in resorts in Aussie all of the kiwi’s were taken aside and told to never never ever say ‘Sweet as’ (sounds like ‘sweet ass’ to people from most of the rest of the world), and not to say ‘Yeah nah’, on account of confusing most people. Bro, sis and cuz were also frowned upon.

    Jandals is short for Japanese sandals – just saying.

    You forgot ‘Muwk’ (milk) 🙂

    And someone earlier said that c*nt can be either offensive or endearing – Don’t be that guy, don’t drop the ‘C’ Bomb – In most social situations it’s considered extremely offensive – Different to in Aussie.

  45. Amateur February 2, 2016 at 12:35 pm #

    There is this classic incident where your typical co-worker asks you this question.

  46. Kate February 4, 2016 at 11:13 am #

    “Downstairs outside there’s a clothesline in the back of the house,” they told me, “and they’re pigs on the ground.”

    Blinking, surely I heard them wrong. “Pigs? What do you mean ‘pigs’? Why are there pigs outside?” I asked.

    Looking at me like I was insane, “PIGS! You know PIGS that you hang your clothes with. PIGS!” They all said in unison pinching their fingers together in motion.

    “Oh my god, you mean PEGS.”

    Liz, they were sayings pegs. What’s the point in saying ‘do you mean pegs’ when that’s exactly what they were saying!
    I really don’t want to make fun of you being American but that’s exactly the kind of thing they get flack for. Considering you’ve traveled so much and have experiences of learning about other cultures and accents, try to show it a little?

  47. Cynthia March 27, 2016 at 4:42 am #

    ha! well NZ (N-zed) is where my sister lives. An American who moved there 25 years ago. So I’m familiar with all of the above … except for Stubbies. That I could have lived without knowing

  48. Paul April 8, 2016 at 1:46 am #

    As an American touring N Zed years ago, it was really bothering me how small the pitchers of beer were there. We are used to getting at least 4 glasses out of a pitcher, but those tiny things that pass for a pitcher there, are almost equivalent to the size of a single beer back home. One pub I was in was doing good business, and it was taking quite awhile to get refills for these small excuses for beer containers. Having learned the lingo, when it was finally my turn, I thought to inquire as to the availability of a larger vessel. When the buxom barmaid was finally able to get to me, I asked her completely straight and innocently, “do you have big jugs”, and no sooner had the words left my mouth, I turned red as a beet! I’m pretty sure her English slang was as bad as my kiwi, as she didn’t bat an eye, and answered that that was the only size she had…

  49. John Barnfield June 7, 2016 at 1:23 pm #

    read your 25 kiwi slang words and phrases. I am old and english so a lot of them have english origins. being american is a disadvantage but some americanisms are used such as muffler (car exhaust silencer (english) and not a scarf (english))

  50. Stephen Victor June 15, 2016 at 1:56 pm #

    This is amazing! I just love the way you explain things and the Humor behind the sayings.

    I moved to New Zealand 7 months ago from South Africa and still find it hard to understand things. I usually just answer ‘Yea’ not knowing what was said, but you start picking the lingo up pretty quickly and soon you realize you are speaking in the same way. haha

    Thanks for this ‘Sweet as’ Article!

  51. Sera June 28, 2016 at 11:49 am #

    Hi i am Sera and I was born in NZ and have lived here my whole life.
    Skux is a word that is used a lot at my school which often refers to cool or awesome
    e.g WOW that guy looks skux


  52. Yuki July 22, 2016 at 1:24 pm #

    This is brilliant. I lived in Wanaka for the greater part of last year, and although I’ve been back in the States for four months, I still say “keen” “you reckon?” and just the other day I accidentally slipped out “sweet as!” Woops! haha

  53. Alexandra October 2, 2016 at 12:17 am #

    Yeah nah isn’t a New Zealand phrase, it’s a South African phrase adopted by kiwis because so many South Africans live in oz or New Zealand. It comes from Afrikaans “ya nee”

  54. Janez October 23, 2016 at 6:38 am #

    Was such a pleasure reading this post. I was in NZ under working holiday scheme and had the best time of my life. Had never been travelling before and I decided to turn my life up side down. English is not my mother language however I thought I won’t have problems with that. Damn I was wrong. Was hard enough at the beginning to set my mind on all English thinking but became harder with understanding kiwi accent. Luckily I started to work in supermarket to have more encounters with locals and could fast gain the ability to understand them. Calling IRD was my biggest fear just cause of that.
    At first as a non-native english speaker I thought I’m lacking vocabulary. Kiwis were using such weird phrases and words. At school we had learnt mostly UK English that is why some of the expressions I had heard for the first time. Especially I’m fond to using the word “Keen”. Every time I was writing a cover letter I had to somehow put it in.
    There was a lot of using “Cheers”… I thought to my self if you would only bring me a drink I’d “cheer’s” you back. Most respectful thing in NZ thanking bus driver!!! Sweet as bro.
    I was also working in apple orchard. Hard work. My manager used this sentence all the time: “If it’s raining I’ll flip you a text”. Of course “text” sounds like teakst.” I woofed a lot (doing small works at somebody’s house for accommodation and food). There was a lady saying “Come sit on my deck”… which sounded like “Come sit on my dick”. or “Please, come to have a tea” (afternoon meal)… And there was heaps of using “Do you reckon?” (do u think?!). I came from overseas with using “ya” for confirming something. Instead of that I’m still using… sweet as bro or yeeaaah. And I was chasing and fed “chucks” (young poultry). And heaps more.
    During my staying in NZ I’d never been homesick. Since I’m back in Europe every day I’m thinking about NZ and craving for those moment. Scarred for life, I left my heart in Kiwiland!!!

  55. Brendan October 26, 2016 at 4:36 pm #

    I’ve visited this post a couple of times, but I just noticed this is a play on the essay “Me Talk Pretty One Day” by Sedaris!


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