Learn to speak basic Kiwi-ese, New Zealand Slang and Sayings

Like all countries, New Zealand has its own slang. Familiarise yourself with basic kiwi-ese words and sayings and you’ll be “away laughing”.

Pull on your jandals, togs and sunnies, pop some beers in the chilly bin and take a tiki tour to the beach! Didn’t understand a word? Then check out our Kiwi-English dictionary to tackle Kiwi-ese slang.

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 A basic holiday home, classically found at the beach or by a lake

Beehive The hive-shaped executive wing of New Zealand’s Parliamentary Buildings

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’!)

Capsicum Bell pepper

Cheers Often used in place of ‘thank you’

Chilly bin Insulated box used to keep food and beer cold

Chippies Potato chips or crisps

Chippy Builder

Choice Great, excellent: “That sports car is choice!”

Chocka Full

Crook Sick

Cuppa Cup of tea

Cuzzies Relatives

Dairy Convenience store, sometimes called ‘the corner dairy’

Footy Rugby, the national obsession

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

Heaps A lot

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 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

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

Pinky Bar Chocolate bar with 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

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

Takeaways Food taken ‘to go’, often fast food such as fish ‘n’ chips

Thanks Often used in place of ‘please’, as in “I’ll have a bottle of orange juice, thanks.”

Tiki tour Scenic route

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