How to fit into the New Zealand way of life – part 2

New Zealand is a country of wonderful experiences.

As we approach Orientation Day, we again welcome scores of new students from across the globe. New Zealand might seem like it's at the bottom of the world, but the people are among the most friendly, social and welcoming. Of course, the scenery isn't too bad either!

Regardless of your origins, it can be difficult to adjust to a new country filled with strange traditions, cultures and accents. As such, a few months ago we published the first part of a series about fitting into New Zealand – read on to learn more about blending into "The Land of the Long White Cloud" in our second edition.

New Zealand slang

Even if you have arrived from an English-speaking country, you will probably find yourself scratching your head at some of the phrases and sayings around Auckland. For example, "wop-wops", "dairy" and "knackered" are all pure New Zealand terms that can quickly catch you out.

While it can help to read Kiwi slang websites, practice often makes perfect – listening to tutors, flatmates or even the television or radio. The more that you hear the New Zealand accent and can interpret various phrases, the more you can show off your new language skills to your kiwi friends!

For the record, "wop-wops" mean the countryside or middle of nowhere, "dairy" refers to a corner shop or convenience store and "knackered" means tired or exhausted.


There is generally no tipping in New Zealand.There is generally no tipping in New Zealand.

In many countries around the world, tipping is an important part of the customer experience – showing your thanks and gratitude to both servers and the chef. However, this behaviour doesn't exist in New Zealand and you are not expected to tip when you are paying the bill at a restaurant or cafe.

Instead you are charged goods and services tax (GST) which currently stands at 15 per cent. This cost will often be included in the price on the menu so you don't have to worry about remembering to pay it.

In New Zealand, you may be charged various surcharges on certain public holidays, including Auckland Anniversary Day, ANZAC Day and Easter. However, this is added to your bill and again is a set charge.


The product price is usually set in stone.The product price is usually set in stone.

Traditionally, New Zealanders are very reserved in the way that they conduct business. This is one of the reasons why bargaining is not practiced in New Zealand shops. When you go into a store, the price will be marked either on or near the product or service and you are expected to pay that rate.

This said, some larger retailers will lower their prices in the rare circumstance that you find the same item advertised somewhere else for less. Outside of this example, you'll either have to pay the marked price or find the same item somewhere else. Smaller market stall owners could be more lenient towards price negotiations, though.


New Zealand stands proudly as the first country to give women the vote in 1893, and one of a select few nations to legalise same-sex marriage back in 2013. As a socially-progressive country, New Zealand takes a zero-tolerance approach to all forms of discrimination regarding gender, sex, sexual orientation and religion.

Respecting all people as equal, regardless of their origins, makes New Zealand an enjoyable and safe place to live and somewhere where people can feel free to express themselves.

AIS – settling into New Zealand

Don't worry if you can't remember all these points at once, settling into a new country takes time. Of course, as long as you are open to New Zealand traditions and culture, there is no doubt that you'll enjoy your time in this beautiful country,

For more information about New Zealand and joining us at AIS, contact our team today.