You could visit New Zealand each year for the rest of your life and still discover something new and spectacular every time. Nestled among the many must-visit towns and cities, national parks, beaches, mountain ranges and glacier-fed lakes are a number of particular locations that represent the true Kiwi lifestyle. From tourist towns to traditional pastimes that are truly iconic to New Zealand, here’s a few of the places where you’ll experience some real Kiwiana:
Otorohanga This small North Island town has a main street lined with cherished icons of Kiwiana from gumboots to jandals and the famous Buzzy Bee toy (pictured above).
Taihape Go and visit the iconic giant gumboot icon.
Paeroa Home of the favourite Kiwi soft drink, Lemon & Paeroa. Take your camera and get a snap of the giant bottle on display in the town centre.
Get into the New Zealand lifestyle
Embrace New Zealand like the locals with these Kiwi-as activities.
Get outdoors Go surfing, play beach soccer or beach cricket. Kiwis love outdoor sports, whether water- or land-based.
Swim in the ocean New Zealanders have a real love affair with the seaside and on a hot day the beaches are popular. Remember when at the beach to ‘swim between the flags’ as this is the safe area patrolled by surf lifesavers.
Stay in a bach Baches are a much-loved Kiwi institution. Traditionally the bach was a small, simple summer holiday home (of sometimes DIY/dubious construction!), usually at the beach or beside a lake. Nowadays though some baches are quite large, modern and luxurious.
Hang out at a café Sip on a coffee, true Kiwi style! For whatever weird reasons, New Zealand has become a haven of excellent coffee, and many Kiwis on their OE (overseas experience) in Europe can’t wait to get back to the coffee at home! Try a short black (espresso shot), a long black (espresso with an equal amount of hot water), a flat white (espresso with steamed milk, stronger than a latte) or a bowl latte (a giant-sized milky coffee served in a very large rounded cup).
Catch a game of rugby Hoot ‘n’ holler with the local team’s supporters, and don’t forget to dress up in the team colours!
See a local band play live You just can’t beat the home-grown musical talent in New Zealand, and many pubs, bars and clubs around the country feature live music most nights of the week.
Kiwi Things to Wear
Don typical Kiwi clothes and you’ll be mistaken for a local!
Kiwi designers From Trelise Cooper and Kate Sylvester to Donna Tulloch and Tanya Carlson – dress in local designer threads.
All Blacks gear Since black goes with everything, All Blacks jerseys (and anything-All Blacks) are always a good look.
Gumboots and black singlets Back in the day this garb used to be almost a uniform for the Kiwi farner – and not just on the farm! Keep an eye out in country pubs and you may find that this Kiwiana tradition has not completely died out!
Kiwi Food & Drink
Every country has symbolic food that represents their country and New Zealand is by no means any different! From seafood to the sweet treat of pavlova and locally brewed beer, here’s a list of some of the main ingredients on the weekly Kiwi shopping list …
Fish ‘n’ chips Eat takeaway fish ‘n’ chips on the beach, and don’t forget the Wattie’s tomato sauce!
Chocolate fish This popular Kiwi sweet treat is often served with coffees. It’s a fish-shaped chocolate-covered marshmallow!
Eat a pie What started as an easy-meal-on-the-run has evolved into nationwide obsession. Sold in the thousands each year from petrol stations and cafés, the fillings can range from gourmet chicken and cranberry to basic beef mince and Kiwi classic, bacon and egg. A true Kiwi culinary tradition!
Hokey pokey icecream New Zealand’s favourite ice cream flavour, vanilla with small bits of crunchy toffee.
Go to a hangi The hangi or ‘earth oven’ is the best known traditional form of cooking for Maori. A hole is dug in the ground and the food (anything from potatoes to pork) is placed in woven baskets and buried along with hot rocks so that the food is cooked slowly in its own steam.
Pavlova A traditional New Zealand dessert – a meringue that is crisp on the outside and soft in the middle, covered with cream and decorated with fruit.
Crayfish Famously bought from roadside stalls in Kaikoura, but sold all over New Zealand.
Speight’s, Monteith’s & Tui Classic Kiwi beer & lager, adored all year round.
Honey Many varieties of honey are available in New Zealand but the most sought-after is Manuka honey, produced from a native flowering shrub known for its health benefits.
King salmon Available either fresh or smoked, salmon is farmed in Marlborough Sounds, Stewart Island and on the South Island’s east coast.
Kiwifruit Also known as the Chinese gooseberry, kiwifruit are succulent green-fleshed fruit with a furry brown skin that thrive in warmer parts of the country.
Lemon & Paeroa (L&P) A combination of lemon juice and carbonated mineral water from the small town of Paeroa. An L&P advertising campaign gave us the now well-recognised concept of “World Famous in New Zealand” (which L&P itself epitomises).
Kumara A traditional Maori food crop, kumara (also known as sweet potato) is a delicious Kiwi favourite that may be served as chips, roasted or mashed.
Lollies Known as candy and/or sweets overseas, Kiwi chewy lollies are often sold in one- and two-dollar bags in local dairies. We’re also a nation obsessed with lolly cake, a glorious desert/slice/log thing made from lollies, crushed malt biscuits, condensed milk, coconut, and melted butter. (Trust us, it’s great.)
Green-lipped mussels Caught around local shores, these large mussels are encased in a beautiful green coloured shell. Often served with a large wedge of bread.
Pineapple lumps Chocolate covered pineapple chews.
Weetbix A favourite breakfast cereal among Kiwis. Similar to the American brand Weetabix.
Marmite Be warned! If you are used to the British spread, Kiwi Marmite has a distinctively different flavour.
Whitebait Tiny minnow-like fish that are considered a delicacy. Often cooked as a fritter, fried in batter.
Paua patties Paua (shellfish) has a very distinctive flavour and is eaten in a pattie.
Bluff oysters From the southern-most town in mainland New Zealand, Bluff.
Anzac biscuits Found in all good cafés and supermarkets.
42 Below Vodka Award-winning New Zealand vodka, available in a wide range of flavours.
Kiwi gifts to buy
Many overseas travellers like to bring back a few souvenirs with which to remember our adventures. Whether it’s an item for your home or a gift for a friend or loved one, here’s a list of Kiwi items to pack in your suitcase before heading home.
A Buzzy Bee A blue, red and yellow coloured pull-along wooden bee on wheels, found in almost every family household in New Zealand. A classic Kiwi toy.
Merino wool Most souvenir shops sell merino wool, worn by New Zealanders to keep warm in the cold winter months. The Icebreaker brand is a Kiwi favourite due to its 100 percent natural and breathable qualities.
Rumi & wood crafts A popular natural craft found at local markets and souvenir shops.
Greenstone (Maori name ‘Pounamu’) Sourced in New Zealand, this green jade is often worn around the neck by many Kiwis, in different symbols. It can be bought as jewellery and is also in many souvenir shops.
Possum fur Blended Merino wool and possum fur crafted into soft and wearable hats, gloves and many other accessories is a local fashion speciality.
Ceramics & sculptures New Zealand is home to many talented artisans who produce beautiful pieces in ceramics, wood, glass and metal.
Gourmet foods Explore New Zealand’s gourmet food stores for home-grown wines, olive and avocado oils, chocolates and distilled liqueurs.
Original art For a real slice of authentic Aotearoa, purchase an original New Zealand painting or limited edition print.
Rotorua mud Take home some local mud and indulge your skin with some of New Zealand’s best natural minerals.