Wearing our togs

Wearing our togs

When I moved to New Zealand from the UK, I thought that things would be fairly straight forward as we speak the same language right? Well, not quite. When I arrived at Auckland Airport I was asked to go to the chicken counter! What?! What was a chicken counter and why would there be one at an airport? It then dawned on me that they were in fact referring to the check-in counter.

Vowel sounds in New Zealand is the biggest area of confusion - the Great New Zealand Vowel Shift and somehow “e”s have become “i”s.

Ben is pronounced “bin,” “head” becomes “hid,” while “really” and “rarely” and "bear" and "beer" sound exactly the same.


Aside from the vowels, there's also the colloquialisms to get use to. Here are my top ten to help you along the way.

1. Sweet as

Quite possibly the most famous of kiwi expressions, “sweet as” means good, ok, cool. Whatever. An expression of affirmation, more or less, usually followed up with “bro.”

2. Kia ora

Kia ora is a Maori greeting that’s common in New Zealand nowadays. Literally meaning “be well,” it’s pretty much synonymous with hello.

3. Dairy

Kiwi word for the corner shop or convenience store where you can buy your milk, eggs, ice-cream etc.

4. Chilly bin

The chilly bin is a cool box in New Zealand often taken on picnics and barbies (BBQ).

5. Chocolate fish

A New Zealand staple, the chocolate fish is basically a pink or white marshmallow shaped fish covered in chocolate with ripple-like scales on them. Fish is pronounced "fush".

6. Bach

Bach (pronounced batch) is the kiwi word for holiday home. These can range in style from the 'typical kiwi bach' which is fairly basic to the outright luxurious. The Nelson-Marlborough region is one of New Zealand's top tourism destination with plenty of holiday homes in all categories.

7. Jandals and togs

Jandals are flip-flops. Togs are swimsuit. Both are summer essentials in New Zealand.

8. Tramping

In New Zealand tramping means hiking.

9. Ka Pai

Pronounces Cow Pie! This is a Maori phrase for "well done" or "good". 

10. Chips

Chips are crisps. But then there is hot chips which are chips! There is also kumara (sweet potatoes) that get turned into chips as well! 

Ghost chips