Ten things that you should know about New Zealand

If you are not a Kiwi local, then there is every chance that in your adventures you will come up against something that stops you in your tracks – if even only momentarily. It may not be a big thing, it may be nothing more than a unique expression, but when you come across it you will likely remember it for a while to come.

In this piece, we wanted to share with you the nine things you should be ready to embrace/see/hear whilst on your New Zealand adventure in the Wop Wop’s.

1. Kiwi Slang

OK, so we may have just inserted that teaser sentence just to get your attention – did it work? But truthfully, aside from the unique New Zealand English-language twang (which can make you second guess yourself when you hear a local tell you the time), there are a number of expressions you should learn so you can understand what people mean, or even converse on their terms.

Wop Wop’s: This literally means nothing more than the middle of nowhere. If you campervan through Australia, you may hear locals refer to it as the back o’ Bourke, but here in New Zealand, it is the Wop Wop’s.

Jandals: As a group here at CRS, we’ve travelled the world quite extensively and are still shocked at how many different words describe a pair of flip flops/thongs. Yes, Jandals are what North American’s call flip flops, Aussies call thongs and others call pushers.

The Ditch: Quite simply the Tasman Sea, the body of water separating Australia and New Zealand.

Buggered: Ok so this one has travelled the Ditch as well as Australian’s also use it, but it means to tired to do anything. As in, “I am too buggered to drive to wellington today”. Can also be substituted with “I can’t be bothered”.

Jumper: This is generally what those in the Northern Hemisphere would call a Pullover or sweater.

Chilly Bin: It may sound like Chully Bun if you here a local say it, but in truth what they mean is an esky, a cooler, or more simply, a big storage container. Its job is to keeps drinks and other things cold for long periods of time.

Sweet as: Due to the laid back and relaxed Kiwi attitude, you will likely hear this a lot. “No Bro, it’s sweet as” basically translates as “no my friend, everything is ok”.

2. The Café and Coffee Culture is Big

In New Zealand the coffee scene is rampant. Whether it is the scene of people having a coffee before work / for meetings / after a meeting finishes, Kiwi’s love to get out and about for a routine break from work.

This also means that they love sitting in a café. But don’t think they sit there alone, or that they are there just for the coffee. In fact, get used to the idea that in New Zealand people in café’s are likely to stop what they are doing to ask about what you are doing.

Whilst this means you will never be lonely in a café, the downside for travellers is that it means only a few café’s offer what you as a traveller come to rely on – free wifi and power for your devices. So charge up whilst you are in your van, and try to find other spots for your data fix.

3. Kiwi’s are honest – sometimes brutally so.

Talk to a New Zealander or a Maori and you will find one thing in common. They are super polite and always ready to help you out. Bear this in mind when you feel they have just crushed/embarrassed you “on purpose”. It is extremely rare for them to belittle someone for sport, so if you feel slighted at something they have had to say, remember, they are unlikely to have been trying to upset you, they are just telling you what they see or feel or think.

4.    No insects in New Zealand can kill you

Yes, you read that correctly. There are no venomous insects in New Zealand. And in fact, there are only three species of spider you really need to avoid.

The Redback spider: As its name suggests this has a red slash on it’s back. It has only rarely caused a fatality but will cause swelling, vomiting and fevers.

The white-tailed spider: A skinny spider with a white tip on its abdomen. It does not cause death

The Katipo: This is a very shy spider and is in fact endangered, so it is unlikely you will see one, but if bitten it can cause some pain and discomfort.

5. New Zealand is ahead of the World

If you are lucky enough to celebrate New Year’s Eve in New Zealand, you will also get the chance to welcome in the new year ahead of any other country. Yes, New Zealand’s North Island is at the cusp of the International dateline and is the first country to see the sun each and every day.

6. You can see the Aurora Australis

The Aurora Australis is visible from New Zealand

Many people will tell you that you have to go further south to see the Southern Lights, but the truth is, from good vantage points, you can actually see the Aurora Australis from New Zealand. In fact, viewing the night sky is so good in New Zealand that it is home to the largest Dark Sky Reserve in the Southern Hemisphere. If you are an avid star watcher, then you must visit the Aoraki Mackenzie Dark Sky Reserve.



7. Golf is big here

How big you may ask? Well put it this way, per capita, there is no other country in the world with as many golf courses. That is right, there are over 400 courses here and many of them are rated in the top courses of the world.

8. They have the clearest lake – in the world!

Nelson’s Blue Lake is classified as the clearest lake in the world. With visibility up to 80 metres deep, this is most definitely something you should go take a look at if your itinerary allows it.

9. If you want to see wildlife this is the country to do it

We know, this seems like an odd statement, but let us put it into perspective. With a ratio of just 5% of humans to animals, New Zealand officially holds the title of least people to animals anywhere in the world.

10. The longest place name in the world

You guessed it, New Zealand holds another title, this one for the longest place name in the world. It’s not 35 letters long nor is it only 50 letters long. In fact, it is 85 characters in length. What is it called? Taumatawhakatangihangaoauauotameteaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu which in Maori loosely translates to “The place where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, who slid, climbed and swallowed mountains, known as the land-eater, played his nose flute to his loved ones”.


In your travels around the Land of the Long White Cloud, you are undoubtedly going to experience a raft of new words, foods and sights. But that is the beauty of travel. We’d love to hear some of your quirkier findings from New Zealand, so please share them below and let’s grow as large a collection as we can. Or if you have any questions, feel free to get in touch with us!


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