Culture & Lifestyle

Culture and Lifestyle

New Zealand Culture

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Getting familiar with kiwi expressions

New Zealanders have a number of phrases and words that are not easily translated, which are referred to as ‘slang’ words. Here are some commonly used terms:

Slang word/term
Bach or crib
a holiday house
Beauty or beaut
Bikkiesbiscuits (cookies) or money
Broketo have no money
Catch you latersee you later
Cheersthank you or goodbye
Chilly binpicnic box for keeping food cool
Fair goeven or fair chance
Flat stick / flat outbusy
Flatmatesomeone you share a flat with
Give it a goto have a try
Good on youwell done
Gooday / g’day / giddayhello
Choice / wicked / awesomevery good
Heapsa lot of as in “heaps of money”
How’s it goinghow are you
I’ll give you a buzzI’ll phone you
It sucksit’s really bad
Jandals or thongsrubber summer sandals
Lolliessweets or candy
Marmite / Vegemitea yeasty savoury spread
Matea good friend
Okey dokeyOkay
PavPavlova (NZ dessert)
Uni or varsityuniversity

For more kiwi slangs, please click here.

Understanding Māori words

Māori Words

Many words, place names or greetings are in Māori – the indigenous people of New Zealand.

Hot Tip

In the Māori language “wh” is pronounced as “f”

Some Māori words/terms you will hear often include:
Māori word(s)Meanings
Aotearoathe Māori name for New Zealand meaning ‘land of the long white cloud’
Haere mai!Come here! Welcome! Greeting.
HaererāGoodbye ( said to someone leaving)
HakaThe dance/performance used for challenges (usually seen prior to an international sport competition)
HāngīEarth oven-earth over to cook food with steam and heat from heated stones
HongiTo press noses in greeting
HuiMeeting to discuss a special topic
IwiTribe (in Christchurch this is NgāiTahu)
Kia oraa Maori greeting/hello
MaraeCourtyard – the open area in front of the wharenui (meeting house) or where formal greetings and discussions take place
PākehāNew Zealander of European descent
PōwhiriWelcome ceremony on a marae
TangiTo cry/mourn/weep. Also refers to a wake/funeral
Te reoThe language (Maori)
WhānauExtended family

For an online Māori dictionary, please click here.

Eating Out

Christchurch has a large number of restaurants and cafes which include a range of ethnic food. Many of the restaurants are clustered in areas or streets together. Check out Find ChCh for lists and locations of eating places.

On weekends and particularly in popular restaurants, it’s always a good idea to make a booking in advance by phoning or emailing the venue.

Fun Fact

BYO means “Bring your own”. Some restaurants allow you to bring wine (not beer) and charge a small fee known as “corkage” This is a cheaper option than buying on site.

Eating out phrases

There are some terms you will not have heard of that are used often in bars, restaurants etc.

Cover chargeA fee charged to get into bars/nightclubs (often after 10pm). Expect to pay anywhere between $5 and $20 depending on the quality of entertainment.
Dress CodeMake sure you wear neat casual clothing – clubs won’t let you in with jandals / thongs / singlet or ripped jeans. Women are often treated more leniently than men but it is a good idea to dress smartly. Read more information on dress code.
Happy hoursHappy hours are usually a couple of hours early in the evening where drinks are discounted (e.g. 2 for price of 1).
Ladies nightsGirls are offered discounted drinks.
Specials BoardThese dishes will usually be a one-off cheap option and may not appear on the menu.
Take a PlateThis is an invite to come for a meal and you bring something to share on a plate.
TippingTipping isn’t common in restaurants or shops in NZ although people will do so if they feel they have received good service. You do not have to tip. Read more information on NZ tipping culture.

Buying food


Most New Zealanders go to the supermarket weekly to buy food. You can buy almost everything you need to eat at supermarkets. They sell groceries, fruit and vegetables, meat and fish, and essential household and personal items. NZ supermarkets also sell wine and beer but you must provide evidence of being over 18 yrs of age. The main supermarket chains in New Zealand are:

Pak n Save
New World


Fresh Food Markets

There are some great fresh food market destinations all accessible by bus. The most popular city markets include:

Christchurch Farmers’ MarketRiccarton House & Bush – 16 Kahu Rd in RiccartonEvery Saturday 9am-1pm
Riccarton Rotary MarketRiccarton Racecourse – Riccarton Park 146 Racecourse RoadEvery Sunday morning 9am-2pm
Lyttelton Farmers MarketLondon Street in LytteltonEvery Saturday from 10am to 1pm


International food suppliers

If you are cooking your own meals here are some good suppliers of international food products.

Kosco227 Blenheim Rd Riccarton (and other locations)
China Town Market384 Riccarton Rd in Upper Riccarton
Sun Son Market386 Riccarton Rd in Upper Riccarton
Big T21 Foremans Road, Inslington
Tokyo Foods10 George Bellew Road in Harewood
Mediterranean Warehouse322 Tuam Street in Christchurch Central
Halal World292 Lincoln Road in Addington
Mefco24 Acheron Drive in Riccarton


Christchurch has the retail market covered

Whether you are a reluctant shopper or passionate about fashion, Christchurch has the retail market well covered. There are many well-known and high profile chain stores and designer stores in Christchurch, along with quirky (unusual) concept stores unique to the region.

Shop Opening hours

Opening hours are generally displayed on the shop’s window, but many shops open at 9.00am and close at 5.00pm or 5.30pm. Malls are mostly open from 9.00am – 6.00pm but may open at 10.00am on Sundays. Each mall will have at least one night of extended shopping hours, usually until 9:00pm; this is known as ‘late night’ shopping in New Zealand.


The largest mall in the Christchurch area is Westfield Riccarton although there are many malls and shopping centres including:

Northlands Shopping Centre: Shp12/55 Main North Road, Papanui.
The Palms Shopping Centre: Corner Marshland & New Brighton Roads.
Dress-Smart Outlet Shopping: 409 Main South Road, Hornby.
Westfield Riccarton: 129 Riccarton Road, Riccarton.
Eastgate Shopping Centre: corner Linwood Avenue & Buckleys Road, Linwood.
South City Mall: 555 Colombo Street, Sydenham.
The Colombo: 363 Colombo Street, Sydenham.
The Hub Hornby: 418 Main South Road, Hornby.

ReStart Mall City Centre: Cashel Street, Central City

The central city outdoor retail space made of converted shipping containers is located next to Ballantynes department store. Opened in October 2011, Re:START has around 40 retailers, a number of food caravans and a weekend market. Buskers and random street entertainment is a bonus during shopping hours.

Hot Tip

Clothes and shoe sizes vary in every country so it is good to check equivalent NZ sizes particularly if you are buying on line (Trade Me). Here is a size guide.

Driving in NZ

Planning on driving in New Zealand?

If you are planning to drive (a car or motorcycle) on New Zealand roads, you need a driver’s licence. An International driving licence is valid for one year in New Zealand but beyond that period you need to apply for a New Zealand licence which requires that you pass written and oral tests. You may also have to drive a car in a practical test.

Road Rules

Stick to the left
In New Zealand you drive on the left hand side of the road and you and your passengers must wear seatbelts or you can be stopped and fined.

Watch your speed
The speed limit for all vehicles around the city streets is 50km per hour. On the open road it is 100km per hour for cars, light trucks and motorcycles, unless signs indicate otherwise. Remember these limits are the fastest speed you are allowed to travel.

The rules for intersections are different to other countries so make sure you understand the rules around turning at controlled and uncontrolled intersections for bikes and cars.

Road Code
If you are planning to drive or cycle on NZ roads please click on the link below and read the appropriate road codes here (it is in many languages).

NZ has strict rules around driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

Here is a video for you about driving safety in New Zealand:
Drive Safe

Getting a Driver’s Licence

There are three stages to getting your driver’s licence if you are 16 years or older:

Learner licence
Pass 3 tests – an eyesight test, a written road code test and an oral test.

Restricted licence
After 6 months you can sit a practical driving test.

Full licence
After 18 months you can apply for a full licence. If you take a defensive driving course or an advanced driving course you can shorten this time to 12 months.


Road Accidents

Stop and Check
If you have an accident you must stop and check if anyone is hurt before doing anything else. If someone is hurt you must call an ambulance by phoning 111. Even if no one is hurt you must still exchange names and address, registration numbers and names of insurers of the damaged vehicles with the other people involved in the accident. Contact the company you have your car insured with as soon as possible after the accident to report the incident.