New Zealand · Travel

Kiwi Lingo

English is the primary language in New Zealand. This means we haven’t run into language barriers like many people do when they leave their home country. There’s been several occasions in which accents have been a source of comical confusion, however usually after a slow repetition of the word- things are cleared up. That goes for accents on both sides by the way 😉


But misunderstandings aside, we have found it really exciting and interesting to learn new words, phrases and even different names for familiar items. We thought we’d share some of them with you- so you can enjoy kiwi lingo too 🙂

Things Kiwi’s Say:

  • Mate: Both as in “Thanks mate”, and in reference to a friend “I have a mate..”.
  • Cheers: Not just when you raise a glass, also interchangeable for thanks.
  • Far out: Not just when trying to sound hip. Used both positively and negatively.
  • Average: When something is lame, or disappointing. “This coffee is average” when the coffee is not great.
  • Team: Used when referring to a group of people, personally and professionally.
  • Keen: I would like that. “I’m keen for dessert!”
  • Ta: Short for thank you.
  • Rock up: When you arrive to something.
  • She’ll be right: It will be fine/it will work out.
  • Couldn’t be bothered: Don’t quite care enough. “I couldn’t be bothered to go back for an umbrella.”
  • Take the piss out: To give someone a hard time/tease them.
  • Bogan: A type of person somewhere between hick and trailer trash.
  • Sweet as: A sentence that ends in as, refers the word before it to an extreme. If you were going to say something like “That was cool as hell!”… you could just say it was “cool as!” Sweet as, cool as, neat as…. you get the idea.


Different Names For The Same Things: 

(Some of these we recognized, others we hadn’t ever heard before)

  • Togs: swim suits
  • Jandals: flip flops
  • Serviette: napkin
  • Bach {batch}: holiday home, oftentimes a beach house
  • Trolleys: carts at a grocery store
  • Dairy: convenient store
  • Roster: a work schedule
  • Ute: short for utility vehicle, specifically a truck
  • Lollies: small candies
  • Spring Onion: green onions
  • Capsicum: bell peppers (this one is really fun to say)
  • Kumara {coo-mara}: sweet potato
  • Corgette: zucchini
  • Coriander: cilantro
  • Gherkins: pickles
  • Herb: okay we all know this one…  but they pronounce the H. It’s actually said how it’s spelled. *mind blown*


Something else that’s been cool, is how often words that we DO know are used in different context. Things like: reckon, heaps, wee, choice, mean, jumper, for example.

Obviously, some of this terminology may be specific to the people we’ve been around. We also know that this lingo does not belong solely to New Zealand…. and may be used by other people in other places. Either way, it’s new to us… and we rather like it 🙂




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