7 Odd Things Which Make New Zealand Super Interesting

Black Sheep of New Zealand

Everyone who has ever been to this part of the world says that it is quite different there.
In this post, we bring few things that we consider for the weirdest ones, which we experienced during our prolonged travels across New Zealand.
It is definitely something worth to experience. If you haven’t been interested in visiting NZ until now, maybe this post will change your mind.

1. Language

It was quite long ago since I left school. However, I can clearly remember how teachers appealed to us to learn that ‘perfect’ British accent. Later on, we quite get used to all of that American movies and sort of get it into the ears. I wasn’t very confident about my speaking of English, but I was confident enough about the listening of English.
Until we came to New Zealand….

First impressions were like, “are we really in the English-speaking country?”… And then it got even worse when we had to deal with some administration.
Like for example, you have to get IRD (tax) number. You have to apply, and then call them later and ask them for your IRD number, so you can give it to your employer.
I called there 2 times, every time it took the same person and I hung up after awhile because didn’t understand a single word.
3rd time I hung up with the hysteric cry, that I’m not able to get my IRD number. Don’t worry I finally got it, but my English confidence was broken for awhile, I’m a shy person.

The further we moved from the city, the more issues we had to understand locals. It is partly caused from the different and not usual accent they use. However, they have also so many idioms which are specific only to Kiwis, and they don’t usually mean what you think they do.

Like for example, someone invited us to a “tea”, so we thought we’re going to have a cup of tea or coffee. Instead, we’ve been invited for a dinner…
When kiwis invite you on a barbecue and say “bring a plate”, it doesn’t actually mean you should bring an empty plate. It means you should contribute to party with something to eat, like a potato salad for example.

They tend to pronounce some words with the letter “e” like “ee”, what is a bit confusing sometimes. For instance, they say a word “left” pronouncing it as a “lift”. Then you are not really sure whether you should turn left or take a lift.
Have a “cuppa” means a cup of tea or coffee, and a small break in work is called “smoko”.

You wouldn’t believe it, but the phrase “off with the fairies” describes daydreaming, which sounds even more absurd than a “piss” which refers to a beer!

So don’t be scared when you hear they invite you to drink a piss…it’s just a beer…

Finally, what is in fact nice thing is that they call you “bro” or a “mate” even if you’re not relative or a good friend to them.
I could continue to list so many words out there which often made us feel really stupid. It was like we pretended that we know what is this conversation about, but in fact didn’t have any idea…
But at the end, the most important thing is, that we have to laugh every time we think about these situations and have a bunch of nice and funny memories.

2. Lifestyle

When we started to live in New Zealand, we began to understand that it is possible to live happier, fulfilled life with a much peaceful life than you are used to in Europe or elsewhere the in the world.
Even though you live in a bigger city like Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch, you can always sit in the car and escape to the wildest nature just hour of drive away. Or you can spend your afternoons with family on the beach after work.
Kiwis really live calmer life and value things which are most important in our lives – family. While in Europe to have a family is not a trending matter because people are trying to focus on career and money, in New Zealand young people have families and kids at quite young age already.
Retirees are a special topic in New Zealand. Before we came to NZ I have never seen old couples holding hands and walking on the beach. I have never seen 60 years old man to surf on the beach like a youngster or to skate. In fact, in comparison to our country, Kiwi retirees look healthier, happier and younger…

Freedom of expression, and lifestyle by your choice is a matter of course. No one judge you by your race, gender, ethnicity, nationality, orientation, job position or anything else which could cause prejudices of any kind.

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Freedom of expression… no one really cares what you do and how you choose to live your life in New Zealand.

However, the fact that this country lies lonely on the other end of the world has its own cons as well. For example astronomic prices of life expenses of accommodation and food.
This is why many Kiwis share the accommodation and tourists traveling abroad also looking for this way of living. Why we consider this particular thing for at least odd, we will explain in the next paragraph.

3. Sharehouse

Sharehouse is a definition of a sharing of accommodation or apartment with more people to save money.
It is a great way how to save a really big amount of money over a time. Renting of a small house or a flat may range from 350NZD to 1000NZD (and over) per week, depending on the location.
Costs of backpackers and motels aren’t really favorable in the long run. The only option how to save money is to live in a sharehouse or in a car/caravan/tent/van.

This experience can bring a lot of fun, lets you meet new people, merge into the culture and a day-life of locals. It may also bring detailed insight into the lives of strange people and their ridiculous manners and habits, you’ve never had an idea could ever exist.

We actually ended up living with one person, who didn’t close the door when using the toilet. He probably thought that it is cool for us to hear those sounds while enjoying our dinner.
Or that the green beefsteak in the fridge from Pak’n’Save a week after expiration is still ok to eat.
The best ‘joke’ was, when we realized that cooked meal actually doesn’t need to be stored in a fridge to keep it fresh. You can leave it as it is on the stovetop for 2 days. Or as long until it’s not completely eaten…

Are you too lazy to wash your sheets but has it started to be a bit smelly already? No need to wash it, just take scissors, go to your backyard and stick the sheets to a palm tree. The sun takes care of the smell and you are free to use it again…

Another case of flatmates was not funny, neither gross but a bit annoying because they always started to cook solely when we tried to appear in the kitchen to prepare some food. After awhile our living together turned out to be a battlefield for the kitchen space.

Now tell me, would you really want to miss all this adventure of getting to know other people as close as you never really wanted?
Well, you should consider one fact and it is that you will definitely enjoy a lot of fun. Eventually, you will make new friendships.

4. Barefoot Nation

Have you ever seen someone barefoot in a shopping mall? Seriously, think about it.
We have never seen it before in any country in Europe, even when temperatures outside were reaching the boiling point.
Don’t be surprised when you come to New Zealand, because Kiwis are a barefoot nation, literally.
They go barefoot to supermarkets, shopping malls, they drive barefoot, they simply really like it. I think it partly comes from the Maori culture because you are not allowed to visit Marae (traditional Maori communal sacred place) in shoes. And probably partly from the fact, that Kiwis still have stronger bonds to the nature as Europeans (and other nations) these days.
When you visit supermarket during evening hours, there is a good chance you will meet barefoot kids in pyjamas doing a quick shop with parents.

5. Mysterious Gang Stories

Most people who visit New Zealand will probably never hear of anything like this. When you’re visiting the country as a tourist, you usually focus on the nice things, not the crimes or social issues of the country.
New Zealand is regularly ranked as one of the safest places in the world. But it doesn’t mean that crime didn’t find its way there.
However, as we have found a kiwi friend obsessed with crime matters, we have been unwillingly intrigued into some of the very mysterious and horrifying stories of New Zealand gangs.

mongrel mob member
Mongrel Mob member. Isn’t it the scariest face you’ve ever seen?


We have lost part of our naivety that we are in a safe paradise after he told us a cruel story of missing Swedish couple found dead in Coromandel back in 90′. Other stories involved fights between some gangs members fighting for their position mostly in drug dealing business.
According to Wikipedia, New Zealand is the only country, which has most gangs per head, than any other country in the world. Stories of some of the famous ones, like Mongrel Mob members, has drawn the attention of the whole world.
Their ‘attraction’ is based on their frightening look with the devilish tattooed faces. But you do not need to be scared because their highest glory has been in between 60′ and 90′. Despite some of the gangs exist nowadays, the chance that you would become their victim is little to none (unless you are in their business).


6. Camping

Camping is favorite kind of adventurous holiday with family or friends all over the world.
But when it comes to New Zealand, Kiwis have moved camping to a totally different level.

Why? Remember those old movies about hippie lifestyle? In NZ you can live your hippie life even today. Pure and pristine nature offers the most spectacular views and experiences ever. Furthermore, there is no dangerous predator in wild which could harm to humans, and therefore it makes it a heaven for camping. In combination with pleasant mild climate, long, sunny summers and nice, friendly people, it is a hippie heaven indeed.

Camping spots for free – There is a possibility to camp for free or at very low costs all over New Zealand. Whether you have a self-contained caravan or just a sleeping hippie van, you can roam across New Zealand for just minimum costs. It includes some rules, though. So for more information read our post about Freedom Camping in NZ – The Travel Hack in New Zealand – Freedom Camping.

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Campsite in Queenstown

7 Odd Things Which Make New Zealand Super Interesting, Campsite in Queenstown, travel New Zealand, travel blog New Zealand, tent camping NZ, freedom camping New Zealand, New Zealand travel guide, why to visit New Zealand, what to see in New Zealand, weird things about New Zealand,

Many people in New Zealand left all their steady lives. They sold their houses and bought a bus, caravan or truck and built their very own home on the wheels. Now they can roam freely and make their home any place they like at the moment.
We personally met a lovely couple of retirees who decided to sold house and invest money into rebuilding a bus into the home on the wheels. They now travel the New Zealand, camp on the most beautiful spots and enjoy meeting new people and places.

7. Kiwi Humour

Kiwis are definitely people who love to laugh and joke. They don’t even mind doing jokes from themselves, and conversation with them is often very ironic. You think they said something mean, but actually, they were ironic or just kidding you. It is a bit confusing sometimes. But as soon as you know them closer, you begin to understand that life shouldn’t be taken so seriously. There’s nothing better than to take it easy with a smile, learn from Kiwis.

pastafarian new zealand
Only in New Zealand

These 7 odd things make New Zealand very special destination for us.
Meeting new cultures and places are widening our view on the life and provide spiritual grow enriching our souls.
New Zealand with its culture heritage, nature’s gifts and ‘oddity’ has a lot to offer and teach us as well.

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Picture by ©Radoslav Cajkovic – Radocation

Do you think we forgot something? What do you consider for ‘odd’ in NZ? Did you experience something weird during traveling in NZ?
Gladly welcome your opinions and comments. Cheers!

© Independent Couple













One thought on “7 Odd Things Which Make New Zealand Super Interesting

  1. vinneve says:

    Kiwi accent oftentimes very strong in the upper North Island and in South Island but it can vary. When they say “smoko” yes it is some sort of break as some does smoke when having their break at work though not everybody smokes. 🙂 About #3… well depends on people & where you are. Period. I do understand being confused and that’s the start of knowing some part of being in NZ. BTW… it is true that NZ still one of the safest Country but don’t be complacent with your safety. It is not crime free.

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