Slang is as old as the hills. No matter which country you are visiting, you will always be faced with that awkward situation where you have no idea what someone is talking about. New Zealand is no different. Kiwi slang can be confusing when you first arrive. Knowing your ‘bros’ from your ‘cuzzies’, your hot chips from your chippies and your jandals from your thongs is going to be pretty important.
Whenever we travel around the world, we try to endear ourselves to the locals. Knowing the local slang and the best way of asking for things is a great way of settling in so whether you’re visiting for a couple of weeks or moving here permanently, here are a few of our choice slang terms that will help you on your way.
New Zealand’s top 30 slang terms and when to use them
- Bach (pronounced ‘batch’) – this is definitely a good one to know. A bach is a summer house. Lots of Kiwis have one and they are popular in beach resorts. They tend to be pretty basic (although they are getting more up-market). If you are looking for cheap accommodation in New Zealand, check out bookabach.co.nz where you can rent out these holiday homes
When to use: “The weather looks cracking for the weekend, let’s head up to the bach”
- Beaut – used to describe something that is really good. Simple as.
When to use: “That fish you caught today was a beaut” or “Love you’re new car, she’s a beaut”
- Bro – ah, an absolute Kiwi staple. Bro is short for brother and is used to describe your best mates (as well as your actually brother). Probably one of the most used Kiwi slang terms and one of our favourites.
When to use: “It’s hot out, let’s go grab a beer bro” or “Thanks for your help bro – top man!”
- Chips – rather like the Americans, we use the word ‘chips’ to describe what the Brits call ‘crisps’, hence why we need to call number 14 ‘hot chips’. To be fair, those Brits do make a good point to avoid confusion but that’s the way we’ve always done it and we’re sticking with it!
When to use: “Get us some chips when you go to the bar”
- Chocka – full to the top.
When to use: “My boot is chocka with all that stuff we bought at the weekend”
- Crook – this is one of our favourites and is used if you’re not feeling too well.
When to use: “I went out for a curry last night and I’ve been feeling a bit crook all day”
- Cuz(zie) – another Kiwi favourite. Cuz or cuzzie is short for cousin and is used in a similar way to bro or as an alternative. Can be used to describe males and females.
When to use: “Hey cuz, how are you?”
- Dairy – this is a traditional corner shop and sells everyday essentials including milk, newspapers and those all essential Lotto tickets!
When to use: “I’m just off down to the dairy to pick up some milk”
- Eftpos – this is short for Electronic Fund Transaction Point of Sale and is the way Kiwis pay for everything. Used to describe both the cash machine and the card swipe in dairies, restaurants, shops – everywhere really. You will be faced with 3 options when using an Eftpos – cheque, savings and credit – if in doubt go with cheque!
When to use: In the dairy – “So that’s a pint of milk and some lollies” “I’ll pay on Eftpos”
- Eh – Probably the most used of all Kiwi slang terms. If you spend any serious amount of time here, it won’t be long before this becomes part of your daily vocab. Used to confirm that something you are saying is true, without really asking a question. It’s pronounced ‘ayy’
When to use: “We’re meeting at 8 tonight, eh”
- Feijoa – this is not really slang but it is a good one to know. A feijoa is a fruit that is native to New Zealand and doesn’t seem to be found anywhere else. They take a bit of getting used to but don’t disrespect them as Kiwis are very protective of them!
When to use: “Those kids are selling feijoas – only $2 a bag!”
- Heaps – used to describe ‘lots’ of something. It’s another well used Kiwi slang term which you could say we use ‘heaps’!
When to use: “I’ve got heaps of work to do this week” or “That was heaps of fun, let’s have another go!”
- Hokey pokey – surely one of the best things about New Zealand. Hokey pokey is a flavour which is very similar to honeycomb. It can be ice cream, a chocolate bar or other lollies. It is truly delicious so make sure you remember this one!
When to you: “Please can I have a large hokey pokey ice cream”
- Hot chips – perhaps one of the most confusing things for visitors is the way we describe our potato-based snacks. Hot chips literally refer to hot cooked chips. Most foreigners (especially the Brits) get super confused and wonder why we need to call them ‘hot’ chips!
When to use: “I’ve not had anything to eat all day – better get some hot chips to keep me going”
- Jandals – whether you call them flip flops or thongs where you come from, the perennial summer footwear favourite is called a jandal in NZ. They are one step up from going bare foot (which Kiwis do a lot!) and often look pretty battered!
When to use: “If we’re off to the beach I’ll just grab my jandals”
- Lolly – whilst many countries use the word ‘lolly’ to describe a sweet that’s on a stick, New Zealander’s use it to describe all sweets!
When to use: “We need to get some lollies in for the road trip”
- Munted – this one has two meanings which equate to the same thing! Used to describe something that is broken (pretty much beyond repair) or used to describe someone who is really drunk (pretty much beyond repair!)
When to use: “That sofa is completely munted – I can see the springs sticking out!” or “That bro over there is munted – just fell into a ditch!”
- No worries – similar to sweet as, no worries is the best way to describe Kiwis in general – they’ve got no worries! Kiwis are super laid back so you will hear this one a lot!
When to use: “I need to borrow 10 bucks” “No worries”
- OE – literally short for Overseas Experience. Most Kiwis will take an OE when they graduate from Uni or before they get their first job. It usually involves a 6 month trip to Europe starting off in the UK.
When to use: ‘Tom’s on his OE at the moment – looks like he’s having a blast in London”
- Scroggin – if you’re heading out on a big tramp, you might want to pack yourself a bag of scroggin – a mix of nuts and fruit which is often called trail mix in other countries.
When to use: “Better get some scroggin in for the tramp tomorrow”
- Scull – this one is a favourite of the university crowd and means to down your drink. If someone yells it at you, it’s best just to do it!
When to use: “Happy birthday Tom – now scull that beer”
- She’ll be right – when something is not working perfectly but it will be all good in the end.
When to use: “My car’s been playing up a bit recently” “She’ll be right”
- Stoked – super happy about something.
When to use: “I’m so stoked about the All Blacks win last night”
- Sweet as – used to describe something that is awesome but also used when there’s no problem. This one is a Kiwi classic slang term and has been taken on all over the world.
When to use: “I’m heading out now” “Sweet as” or “Can I borrow your car” “Sweet as”
- Tiki tour – this one is a confusing one for overseas visitors. A tiki tour is a small organised tour where you will see a lot of things in a day. Alternatively, if you head the long way to a place or someone’s house, you might get called out for taking a tiki tour.
When to use: “Are we taking the tiki tour to Sarah’s house?”
- Togs – describes your swimming gear and is used by boys and girls.
When to you: “If we’re heading to the beach, I’ll just grab my togs”
- Tramp – whilst some people may use the term to describe homeless people, it has a completely different meaning here in NZ and refers to going out for a long walk or hike.
When to use: “I’m feeling so unfit – let’s head out for a tramp this weekend”
- Westie – used to describe someone who comes from West Auckland.
When to use: “Ah yeah, Steve’s a Westie”
- Wop Wops – this is a term used to describe the middle of nowhere. New Zealand has some pretty remote towns and villages so this is used a lot.
When to use: “Where does Sarah live?” “Out in the wop wops somewhere”
- Yeah…nah – we’re still not really sure if this means yes or no! If you want to be super vague about something, this is the perfect way to answer.
When to use: “Fancy going out for dinner tonight?” “Ah, yeah…nah”
We like to keep up-to-date with the latest Kiwi slang terms and there are a couple of new ones that have crossed our paths over the past couple of years. To many, these won’t be new ones, however, it’s always good to have all of the slang terms to hand.
- Good as gold –don’t know how we missed this the first time around as it’s such an endearing term. Good as gold basically means you are very happy with what someone has just said or told you.
When to use: “We’re meeting at 7pm tonight” “Good as gold”
- Yonks – used to describe a long period of time.
When to use: “I haven’t seen Stevo in yonks”
- You’re such an egg – this basically means you are a bit of a clown or a joker.
When to use: “That Stevo – he’s such an egg”
- Snag – Another word for sausage. A barbecue is a standard way of socialising in New Zealand so this is definitely one of the most popular kiwi slang terms of the summer.
When to use: “Chuck a few more snags on the barbie”
- Far out – This is an interjection that can mean ‘wow’ or ‘awesome’ and can be used in both a positive and negative light
When to use: “Far out, that was some game by the AB’s last night” or “Far out, I can’t believe how bad Stevo is at driving”
So there you have it, some of New Zealand most popular slang terms. We’re pretty laid back here in New Zealand so we tend to be pretty relaxed when it comes to the way we speak and talk to each other. You can see from the above list that lots of our slang words are terms of endearment so if there’s something you’re unsure of, just ask us!
Hopefully, this sets you up for your trip to New Zealand and you can get down with the lingo before you arrive. If there’s any we’ve missed off our list, be sure to give us a shout.
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